External rotation of the femoral component increases asymmetry of the posterior condyles

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The morphometry of the distal femur was largely studied to improve bone-implant fit in total knee arthroplasty (TKA), but little is known about the asymmetry of the posterior condyles. This study aimed to investigate the dimensions of the posterior condyles and the influence of externally rotating the femoral component on potential prosthetic overhang or under-coverage.

Patients and Methods

We analysed the shape of 110 arthritic knees at the time of primary TKA using pre-operative CT scans. The height and width of each condyle were measured at the posterior femoral cut in neutral position, and in 3° and 5° of external rotation, using both central and medial referencing systems. We compared the morphological characteristics with those of 14 TKA models.


In the neutral position, the dimensions of the condyles were nearly equal. Externally rotating the femoral cut by 3° and 5° with ‘central referencing' induced width asymmetry > 3 mm in 23 (21%) and 33 (30%) knees respectively, while with ‘medial referencing' it induced width asymmetry > 3 mm in 43 (39%) and 75 (68%) knees respectively. The asymmetries induced by rotations were not associated with gender, aetiology or varus-valgus alignment.


External rotation may amplify the asymmetry between the medial and lateral condyles, and exacerbate prosthetic overhang, particularly in the superolateral zone. ‘Central referencing' guides result in less potential prosthetic overhang than ‘medial referencing' guides.

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