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Standardising the clinical assessment of coronal knee laxity

Clarke, Jon V. and Wilson, William T. and Wearing, Scott C. and Picard, Frederic and Riches, Philip E. and Deakin, Angela H. (2012) Standardising the clinical assessment of coronal knee laxity. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine, 226 (9). pp. 699-708. ISSN 0954-4119

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Clinical laxity tests are used for assessing knee ligament injuries and for soft tissue balancing in total knee arthroplasty. This study reports the development and validation of a quantitative technique of assessing collateral knee laxity through accurate measurement of potential variables during routine clinical examination. The hypothesis was that standardisation of a clinical stress test would result in a repeatable range of laxity measurements.Non- invasive infrared tracking technology with kinematic registration of joint centres gave real-time measurement of both coronal and sagittal mechanical tibiofemoral alignment. Knee flexion, moment arm and magnitude of the applied force were all measured and standardised. Three clinicians then performed six knee laxity examinations on a single volunteer using a target moment of 18 Nm.Standardised laxity measurements had small standard deviations (within 1.1°) for each clinician and similar mean values between clinicians, with the valgus laxity assessment (mean of 3°) being slightly more consistent than varus (means of 4° or 5°).The manual technique of coronal knee laxity assessment was successfully quantified and standardised, leading to a narrow range of measurements (within the accuracy of the measurement system). Minimising the subjective variables of clinical examination could improve current knowledge of soft tissue knee behaviour.