How Does Tibial Pin Placement in Navigated Total Knee Arthroplasty Affect the Torsional Strength of the Tibia?

Grant R. McChesney, Randal P. Morris, Abeer Al Barghouthi, Francesco Travascio, Loren L. Latta, Ronald W. Lindsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction:Surgical navigation technology has recently become more prevalent for total knee arthroplasty. Surgical navigation typically requires pin placement in the proximal tibia diaphysis to stabilize the bone-tracking hardware, and there have been several recent reports of fractures through these residual navigation pin holes. The objective of this biomechanical study was to determine whether a difference exists in the torsional bone strength of a 5-mm navigation pin hole drilled at a single location in three different orientations: unicortical, bicortical, and transcortical.Methods:Biomechanical composite sawbone tibias were used to test four conditions: the intact condition with no holes, a unicortical hole, a bicortical hole, and a transcortical hole through the proximal diaphysis. Seven specimens from each group were tested in external rotation to failure at 1 deg/sec. Torque-to-failure, absorbed energy-to-failure, and rotational angle-to-failure were statistically compared across the four groups.Results:All specimens failed proximally by spiral oblique fractures. No statistical differences were found between unicortical and bicortical groups in torque-to-failure, energy-to-failure, and angle-to-failure. However, both unicortical and bicortical groups were markedly lower in all measures than the intact group. The transcortical group was markedly lower in all measures than the intact group and both unicortical and bicortical groups.Discussion:An appropriately placed navigation residual pin hole, either unicortical or bicortical, markedly decreases the torque-to-failure, energy-to-failure, and angle-to-failure of the tibia compared with the intact condition in a synthetic sawbones model. No notable difference was detected between the unicortical and bicortical holes; however, an errant transcortical residual navigation pin hole markedly decreases all measures compared with an appropriately placed unicortical or bicortical hole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E279-E286
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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