Technical feasibility of personalized articulating knee joint distraction for treatment of tibiofemoral osteoarthritis

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Abstract

Background:

Knee osteoarthritis is a highly prevalent degenerative joint disorder characterized by joint tissue damage and pain. Knee joint distraction has been introduced as a joint preserving surgical procedure to postpone knee arthroplasty. An often used standard externally fixation device for distraction poses a burden to patients due to the absence of joint flexion during the 6 weeks treatment. Therefore, a personalized articulating distraction device was developed. The aim of this study was to test technical feasibility of this device.

Methods:

Based on an often applied rigid device, using equal bone pin positions and connectors, a hinge mechanism was developed consisting of a cam-following system for reproducing the complex joint-specific knee kinematics. In support, a device was developed for capturing the joint-specific sagittal plane articulation. The obtained kinematic data were translated into joint-specific cam shapes that were installed bilaterally in the hinge mechanism of the distraction device, as such providing personalized knee motion. Distraction of 5 mm was performed within a range of motion of 30 deg. joint flexion. Pre-clinical evaluation of the working principle was performed on human cadaveric legs and system stiffness characteristics were biomechanically evaluated.

Findings:

The desired range of motion was obtained and distraction was maintained under physiologically representative loading. Moreover, the joint-specific approach demonstrated tolerance of deviations from anatomical and alignment origin during initial placement of the developed distraction device.

Interpretation:

Articulation during knee distraction is considered technically feasible and has potential to decrease burden and improve acceptance of distraction therapy. Testing of clinical feasibility is warranted.

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