Cartilage assessment using preoperative planning MRI for femoral component rotational alignment

Published:August 22, 2022DOI:



      Surgical planning of posterior referencing total knee arthroplasty (TKA) using computed tomography (CT) might lead to over-rotation of the femoral component because CT could not detect cartilage thickness of the posterior femoral condyle. The purpose of this study was to examine the rotational alignment difference of the femoral component between magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT.


      For elderly varus osteoarthritic patients, 66 varus osteoarthritic knee patients that underwent primary TKA were selected. Twenty-seven young patients who underwent primary anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction were selected as control. After the transepicondylar axis (CEA), the surgical epicondylar axis (SEA) and the posterior femoral condylar line (PCL) were drawn on CT and on MRI at the same angles as CT. Then, the practical PCL was drawn on MRI considering the cartilage thickness (the cartilage PCL). The angle between the SEA and the cartilage PCL (the cartilage posterior condylar angle (PCA)) was measured as preoperative planning. To investigate the accuracy of preoperative MRI measurement, the cartilage thickness on posterior femoral condyles was directly measured during TKA.


      The cartilage PCA for varus osteoarthritic patients averaged 1.3 ± 1.3°. The cartilage PCA was 1.8 ± 1.0° significantly smaller than the bone PCA (the PCA measured on CT). Meanwhile, the cartilage PCA was 0.2 ± 0.4° significantly larger than the bone PCA in young people. The preoperative angle measurement on MRI strongly correlated with the direct measurement of cartilage thickness during TKA.


      There was 1.8° of divergence between MRI and CT in varus osteoarthritic patients due to cartilage degeneration of the medial femoral condyle. Cartilage assessment using MRI was useful for femoral component rotational alignment.


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