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Differences in hip musculoskeletal loads between limbs during daily activities in patients with 3D-printed hemipelvic reconstructions following tumor surgery.

Gait & Posture 2023 March 12
BACKGROUND: Anatomical custom-made prostheses, thanks to computer-aided design and 3D-printing technology, help improve osseointegration and reduce mechanical complications in bone reconstructions following bone tumors. A recent quantitative analysis of long-term recovery in patients with 3D-printed reconstructions following pelvic tumor surgery showed asymmetries in ground reaction forces between limbs during different motor activities, while standing very good motor performance and quality of life.

RESEARCH QUESTION: We analyzed hip contact forces and muscle forces in that cohort of six patients with an innovative custom-made reconstruction of the hemipelvis, and we tested the hypothesis that asymmetries in ground reaction forces would result in more marked differences in musculoskeletal forces.

METHODS: State-of-the-art musculoskeletal modeling in an optimization-based inverse-dynamics workflow was used to calculate hip contact forces and muscle forces during five motor activities, and the differences between limbs were statistically evaluated across the motor activity cycles and on the force peaks.

RESULTS: The musculoskeletal loads were found to be not symmetric, as hip loads were generally higher in the contralateral limb. We found significant differences in considerable portions of the motor activities cycles except squat, load symmetry indices indicating a load increase (median up to 25%) on the contralateral limb, especially during stair descent and chair rise/sit, and significantly higher values in the contralateral limb at force peaks.

SIGNIFICANCE: We confirmed the hypothesis that residual asymmetries found in ground reaction forces were amplified when hip musculoskeletal loads were investigated, reflecting a shift of the loads toward the intact limb. Despite the general trend of higher loads found in the contralateral hip, this cannot be considered a risk of overloading, as both hips supported loads in a physiological range or lower, indicating a likely optimal recovery.

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