The effects of total ankle arthroplasty on postural stability and loading symmetry in quiet stance


Ankle osteoarthritis is a debilitating condition affecting about 1% of the population with approximately 50,000 new instances annually. One treatment is total ankle arthroplasty (TAA), however, its effects on balance are not well understood. This study analyzed balance over a two-year period following TAA. 408 subjects (177 left, 231 right ankles) diagnosed with end-stage ankle osteoarthritis performed quiet standing trials while center of pressure (COP) data were collected. Data were compared across three time points (pre-op, 1-year, and 2-years post-op) and between surgical and non-surgical limbs using a linear mixed model with significance set at P = 0.05. COP excursions in the feet-together condition were not significantly different between limbs after 2 years in anteroposterior or mediolateral directions (P = 0.06, 0.08) after being significantly different between limbs in the anteroposterior (P = 0.014) and mediolateral direction (P < 0.001) pre-op. The vertical ground reaction force significantly decreased across time in the non-surgical limb, while reciprocally increasing in the surgical limb (P < 0.001). After 2 years, no significant difference in vertical ground reaction force between limbs existed (P = 0.20). Limb asymmetry indices decreased at each time point in both conditions (all P < 0.001) and were not significantly different from zero after 2 years in the feet-together condition (P = 0.290). In conclusion, surgical limb balance improved compared to pre-op, resulting in increased symmetry between limbs after 2 years. Vertical ground reaction forces on both limbs converge and limb asymmetry indices approach zero two years post-op. Differences in the COP excursion-loading symmetry relationship between limbs could be useful for identifying instability in other pathologies.

Publication Title

Journal of Biomechanics