Soft-Tissue Balancing Technology for Total Knee Arthroplasty

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» Improperly balanced total knee arthroplasties are at increased risk for complications including residual pain and/or instability, which are often corrected by a revision surgical procedure.

» Because of the morbidity and financial burden associated with revision total knee arthroplasty, different technological applications, such as tibial insert sensors and computer-assisted gap balancing, are being used to assist with soft-tissue balancing during primary total knee arthroplasty.

» Computer-assisted gap balancing increases the accuracy of mechanical alignment and improves the precision of balancing flexion and extension gaps during total knee arthroplasty. It is unclear whether this translates to improved short-term or long-term outcome measures. Considerations of this technology include increased cost, increased operative time, and a steep learning curve.

» Intraoperative sensors increase the accuracy of balancing by quantifying the mediolateral intercompartmental load distribution through the range of motion, which may lead to improved outcome scores, patient satisfaction, higher activity levels, and decreased pain. The advantages of this technology compared with computer assistance include decreased cost and no disruption of operative time or workflow. Limited availability with constrained implants, limited implant choices, and a lack of long-term follow-up data have reduced utilization of intraoperative sensors

» Computer-assisted gap balancing and intraoperative sensors are not yet universally accepted, and the cost-benefit ratio associated with their use remains a consideration in today’s cost-conscious health-care environment. Future research should focus on longer-term follow-up to evaluate implant survivorship, cost-effectiveness, and clinical outcomes.


This commentary was published in JBJS Reviews, Volume 8, Issue 1.

The published version is available at

Copyright © 2020 The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated.

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JBJS Reviews

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