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Assessing The Local Mechanical Environment In Medial Opening Wedge High Tibial Osteotomy Using Finite Element Analysis

Yves Pauchard, Todor G. Ivanov, David D. McErlain, Jaques S. Milner, J. Robert Giffin, Trevor B. Birmingham, David W. Holdsworth

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High-tibial osteotomy (HTO) is a surgical technique aimed at shifting load away from one tibiofemoral compartment, in order the reduce pain and progression of osteoarthritis (OA). Various implants have been designed to stabilize the osteotomy and previous studies have been focused on determining primary stability (a global measure) that these designs provide. It has been shown that the local mechanical environment, characterized by bone strains and segment micromotion, is important in understanding healing and these data are not currently available. Finite element (FE) modeling was utilized to assess the local mechanical environment provided by three different fixation plate designs: short plate with spacer, long plate with spacer and long plate without spacer. Image-based FE models of the knee were constructed from healthy individuals (N = 5) with normal knee alignment. An HTO gap was virtually added without changing the knee alignment and HTO implants were inserted. Subsequently, the local mechanical environment, defined by bone compressive strain and wedge micromotion, was assessed. Furthermore, implant stresses were calculated. Values were computed under vertical compression in zero-degree knee extension with loads set at 1 and 2 times the subject-specific body weight (1 BW, 2 BW). All studied HTO implant designs provide an environment for successful healing at 1 BW and 2 BW loading. Implant von Mises stresses (99th percentile) were below 60 MPa in all experiments, below the material yield strength and significantly lower in long spacer plates. Volume fraction of high compressive strain ( > 3000 microstrain) was below 5% in all experiments and no significant difference between implants was detected. Maximum vertical micromotion between bone segments was below 200 μm in all experiments and significantly larger in the implant without a tooth. Differences between plate designs generally became apparent only at 2 BW loading. Results suggest that with compressive loading of 2 BW, long spacer plates experience the lowest implant stresses, and spacer plates (long or short) result in smaller wedge micromotion, potentially beneficial for healing. Values are sensitive to subject bone geometry, highlighting the need for subject-specific modeling. This study demonstrates the benefits of using image-based FE modeling and bone theory to fine-tune HTO implant design.