The fibular head projection is of limited use as a radiographic landmark in preoperative planning of total knee arthroplasty

Doerte Matziolis, Marius Meiser, Norbert Sieber, Ulf Teichgräber, Georg Matziolis
Skeletal Radiology 2017, 46 (10): 1379-1384

INTRODUCTION: The projection of the fibular head is recommended as a quality indicator of a correct radiographic projection. However, this landmark has yet to be sufficiently validated.

METHODS: The MRIs of 334 knee joints were included. On the MRIs, the distance between the FH and lateral tibial cortical bone was simulated in projections parallel to surgically relevant axes. Then, the Pearson correlation coefficient between the distance of the FH to the lateral tibial cortical bone and the projection plane causing this was determined.

RESULTS: A projection of the knee joint perpendicular to Akagi's line projected the center of the fibular head on average 4.8 ± 2.9 mm laterally of the tibial cortical bone, parallel to the maximum mediolateral axis of the tibia 7.5 ± 3.4 mm, parallel to the posterior condylar axis 5.6 ± 3.6 mm and parallel to the surgical epicondylar axis 6.1 ± 3.5 mm laterally of the tibial cortical bone. An almost linear correlation was seen, with 1.9° tilting of the projection plane per mm change in distance between the fibular head and tibial cortical bone. At the same time, the interindividual scatter was over 60°.

CONCLUSIONS: The rule of thumb for a partial overlap of the fibular head by the tibia in the case of a correct antero-posterior projection plane was also confirmed. However, a considerable interindividual variability of the position of the FH was found, which limits a conclusion regarding the quality of the radiographic projection on the basis of the position of the fibular head.

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