Biomechanical Consequences of Tibial Insert Thickness after Total Knee Arthroplasty: A Musculoskeletal Simulation Study

Periklis Tzanetis*, Marco Antonio Marra, René Fluit, H.F.J.M. Koopman, N.J.J. Verdonschot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The thickness of the tibial polyethylene (PE) insert is a critical parameter to ensure optimal soft-tissue balancing in the intraoperative decision-making procedure of total knee arthroplasty (TKA). However, there is a paucity of information about the kinetic response to PE insert thickness variations in the tibiofemoral (TF) joint, and subsequently, the secondary effects on the patellofemoral (PF) biomechanics. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of varying PE insert thickness on the ligament and TF compressive forces, as well as on the PF forces and kinematics, after a cruciate-retaining TKA. A previous patient-specific musculoskeletal model of TKA was adapted to simulate a chair-rising motion in which PE insert thickness was varied with 2 mm increments or decrements compared to the reference case (9 mm), from 5 mm up to 13 mm. Greater PE insert thickness resulted in higher ligament forces and concurrently increased the TF compressive force by 21% (13 mm), but slightly unloaded the PF joint with 7% (13 mm) while shifting the patella distally in the trochlear groove, compared to the reference case. Thinner PE inserts showed an opposite trend. Our findings suggest that the optimal PE insert thickness selection is a trade-off between the kinetic outcomes of the TF and PF joints.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2423
JournalApplied Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2021


  • Compressive forces
  • Ligament forces
  • Musculoskeletal model
  • Patellar kinematics
  • Polyethylene thickness
  • Total knee arthroplasty

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