Background: Functional alignment (FA) strives to balance the knee soft-tissue envelope during total knee arthroplasty (TKA) using implant alignment adjustments rather than soft-tissue releases. There is a debate on how best to achieve FA. We compared minimum two-year outcomes between FA with a mechanical alignment plan [FA(m)] and FA with a kinematic alignment plan [FA(k)]. The null hypothesis was that there would be no difference in outcomes between FA(m) and FA(k).
Methods: Prospective data was collected from 300 consecutive robotic-assisted FA TKAs [135 FA(m) and 165 FA(k)]. Patient reported outcomes were obtained preoperatively and 2 years postoperatively. The coronal plane alignment of the knee classification was used to classify knee alignment phenotypes.
Results: Overall limb alignment was equivalent between groups. Final implant alignment was different between FA(m) and FA(k) groups, with FA(k) TKAs having higher tibial varus (P < .01), higher femoral valgus (P < .01), and higher joint line obliquity (P < .01). Patients reported higher Forgotten Joint Score-12 scores with FA(k) TKAs (79.4 versus 71.6, P = .018) and greater range of motion (125 versus 121°; P = .003). Patients who had constitutional varus reported the greatest improvement with FA(k) technique (Forgotten Joint Score at minimum 2 years of 89 versus 65; P < .001).
Conclusion: Utilizing an individualized alignment plan [FA(k)] led to a final implant position with greater joint line obliquity, yet the same overall limb alignment. This was associated with improved outcomes at 2 years post-TKA in patients who had constitutional varus. Three-dimensional component position and joint line obliquity affect the outcomes following TKA independently of coronal limb alignment.