The objectives of the present study were to investigate the length change in different bundles of the superficial medial collateral ligament (sMCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) during lunge, and to evaluate their association with Knee Society Score (KSS) following medial-pivot total knee arthroplasty (MP-TKA).

Patients with unilateral MP-TKA knees performed a bilateral single-leg lunge under dual fluoroscopy surveillance to determine the in-vivo six degrees-of-freedom knee kinematics. The contralateral non-operated knees were used as the control group. The attachment sites of the sMCL and LCL were marked to calculate the 3D wrapping length. The sMCL and LCL were divided into anterior, intermediate, and posterior portions (aMCL, iMCL, pMCL, aLCL, iLCL, pLCL). Correlations between lengths/elongation rate of ligament bundles from full extension to 100° flexion and the KSS were examined.

The sMCL and LCL demonstrated relative stability in length at low flexion, but sMCL length decreased whereas LCL increased with further flexion on operated knees. The sMCL length increased at low flexion and remained stable with further flexion, while the LCL length decreased with flexion on the contralateral non-operated knees. The lengths of aMCL, iMCL, and pMCL showed moderate (0.5 <  r <  0.7, p <  0.05) negative correlations with the KSS, and the lengths of aLCL, iLCL, and pLCL were positively correlated with the KSS at mid flexion on operated knees (p <  0.05). The elongation rates of aLCL, iLCL, and pLCL were negatively correlated with the KSS at high flexion on operated knees (p <  0.05). However, no significant correlations between the length of different bundles of sMCL or LCL with KSS were found on contralateral non-operated knees.

The elongation pattern of sMCL/LCL on MP-TKA knees showed differences with contralateral non-operated knees. The sMCL is tense at low to middle flexion and relaxed at high flexion, while LCL is relaxed at low to middle flexion and tense at high flexion following MP-TKA. Medial stability and proper lateral flexibility during mid flexion were associated with favorable postoperative outcomes in MP-TKA patients. In contrast, lateral relaxation at deep flexion should be avoided when applying soft-tissue balancing in MP-TKA.

Level III.

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