Progressive degenerative changes in the medial compartment of the knee following lateral unicompartmental arthroplasty (UKA) remains a leading indication for revision surgery. The purpose of this study is to evaluate changes in the congruence and joint space width (JSW) of the medial compartment following lateral UKA. The congruence of the medial compartment of 53 knees (24 men, 23 women, mean age 13.1 years; SD 62.1) following lateral UKA was evaluated pre-operatively and six weeks post-operatively, and compared with 41 normal knees (26 men, 15 women, mean age 33.7 years; SD 6.4), using an Interactive closest point algorithm which calculated the congruence index (CI) by performing a rigid transformation that best aligns the digitised tibial and femoral surfaces. Inner, middle and outer JSWs were measured by sub-dividing the medial compartment into four quarters on pre- and post-operative, weight bearing tunnel view radiographs. The mean CI of knees following lateral UKA significantly improved from 0.92 (SD 0.06) pre-operatively to 0.96 (SD 0.02) (p < 0.001) six weeks post-operatively. The mean CI of the healthy control group was 0.99 SD 0.01. Post-operatively, the mean inner JSW increased (p = 0.006) and the outer decreased (p = 0.002). The JSW was restored post-operatively as no significant differences were noted in all three locations compared with the control group (inner JSW p = 0.43; middle JSW p = 0.019, outer JSW p = 0.51).
Our data suggest that a well conducted lateral UKA may improve the congruence and normalise the JSW of the medial compartment, potentially preventing progression of degenerative change.