The position of the lateral tibial spine and the implications for high tibial osteotomy planning


Knee, high tibial osteotomy, planning, target, imaging

Published online: Aug 12 2023

Wouter VAN GENECHTEN1,2,3, Gino MESTACH3, Yannick VANNESTE3, Annemieke VAN HAVER2, Jozef MICHIELSEN3, Peter VERDONK2,3,4, Steven CLAES1

1 Orthopedic department, AZ Herentals, Antwerp, Belgium
2 More institute, Antwerp, Belgium
3 Orthopedic department, University hospital Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
4 ORTHOCA, Antwerp, Belgium.


The lateral tibial spine (LTS) is frequently proposed as a correction target in high tibial osteotomy (HTO), although little is known about its exact radiographic position. This study primarily aims to define the position and variance of the LTS. Secondly, this study wants to investigate the relevance of the LTS position on the mechanical tibiofemoral angle (mTFA°) while planning and postoperatively landing the weight-bearing line (WBL) on this landmark. The LTS position was studied on preoperative full-leg standing radiographs (FLSR) and computed tomography (CT) scans in 70 cases. 3D models of the tibia were created in Mimics 23.0 and measurements were conducted in 3-matic 15.0 (Materialise, Leuven®). Next, 100 HTO cases were retrospectively planned with the WBL through the LTS according to Dugdale’s method on FLSR. Finally, 55 postoperative FLSR which had the WBL on the LTS (±2%) were assessed for mTFA° outcome. Statistics were conducted in GraphPad 8.0. The LTS was located at 58.3%±1.9 [55-63%] in 2D and 57.3%±2.2 [53-63%] in 3D showing a high correlation (r=0.77 [0.65 to 0.85]). The planned mTFA on the LTS was 181.8°±0.3 (181.3°-182.5°). On postoperative FLSR, the mTFA was 182.2°±0.6 (180.9°-183.1°). The lateral tibial spine is located at 57-58% on the tibial plateau with a 10% maximal variation range. Good agreement was found between 2D and 3D imaging modalities while evaluating its position in the coronal plane. When aiming the WBL through the LTS during valgus-producing HTO, a consistent realignment of 181-183° mTFA can be expected when performing accurate surgery.