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Varus alignment of the proximal tibia is associated with structural progression in early to moderate varus osteoarthritis of the knee.



Lower limb malalignment is a strong predictor of progression in knee osteoarthritis. The purpose of this study is to identify the individual alignment variables that predict progression in early to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee.


A longitudinal cohort study using data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. In total, 955 individuals (1329 knees) with early to moderate osteoarthritis (Kellgren-Lawrence grade 1, 2 or 3) were identified. All subjects had full-limb radiographs analysed using the Osteotomy module within Medicad® Classic (Hectec GMBH) to give a series of individual alignment variables relevant to the coronal alignment of the lower limb. Logistic regression models, with generalised estimating equations were used to identify which of these individual alignment variables predict symptom worsening (WOMAC score > 9 points) and or structural progression (joint space narrowing progression in the medial compartment > 0.7mm) over 24 months.


Individual alignment variable were associated with both valgus and varus alignment (mechanical Lateral Distal Femoral Angle, Medial Proximal Tibial Angle and mechanical Lateral Distal Tibial Angle). Only the Medial Proximal Tibial Angle was significantly associated with structural progression and none of the variables was associated with symptom progression. The odds of joint space narrowing progression in the medial compartment occurring at 24 months increased by 21% for every one degree decrease (more varus) in Medial Proximal Tibial Angle (p < 0.001) CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the risk of structural progression in the medial compartment is associated with greater varus alignment of the proximal tibia.

Level of evidence

Level III, retrospective cohort study.

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