Finite element analysis of biomechanical effects of total ankle arthroplasty on the foot

Yan Wang, Zengyong Li, Duo Wai Chi Wong, Cheng Kung Cheng, Ming Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Background Total ankle arthroplasty is gaining popularity as an alternation to ankle arthrodesis for end-stage ankle arthritis. Owing to the complex anatomical characteristics of the ankle joint, total ankle arthroplasty has higher failure rates. Biomechanical exploration of the effects of total ankle arthroplasty on the foot and ankle is imperative for the precaution of postoperative complications. The objectives of this study are (1) to investigate the biomechanical differences of the foot and ankle between the foot with total ankle arthroplasty and the intact foot and (2) to investigate the performance of the three-component ankle prosthesis. Methods To understand the loading environment of the inner foot, comprehensive finite element models of an intact foot and a foot with total ankle arthroplasty were developed to simulate the stance phase of gait. Motion analysis on the model subject was conducted to obtain the boundary and loading conditions. The model was validated through comparison of plantar pressure and joint contact pressure between computational prediction and experimental measurement. A pressure mapping system was used to measure the plantar pressure during balanced standing and walking in the motion analysis experiment, and joint contact pressure at the talonavicular joint was measured in a cadaver foot. Results Plantar pressure, stress distribution in bones and implants and joint contact loading in the two models were compared, and motion of the prosthesis was analysed. Compared with the intact foot model, averaged contact pressure at the medial cuneonavicular joint increased by 67.4% at the second-peak instant. The maximum stress in the metatarsal bones increased by 19.8% and 31.3% at the mid-stance and second-peak instants, respectively. Force that was transmitted in three medial columns was 0.33, 0.53 and 1.15 times of body weight, respectively, at the first-peak, mid-stance and second-peak instants. The range of motion of the prosthetic ankle was constrained in the frontal plane. The lateral side of the prosthesis sustained higher loading than the medial side. Conclusion Total ankle arthroplasty resulted in great increase of contact pressure at the medial cuneonavicular joint, making it sustain the highest contact pressure among all joints in the foot. The motion of the prosthesis was constrained in the frontal plane, and asymmetric loading was distributed in the bearing component of the ankle prosthesis in the mediolateral direction. The translational potential of this article Biomechanical variations resulted from total ankle arthroplasty may contribute to negative postoperative outcomes. The exploration of the biomechanical performance in this study might benefit the surgeons in the determination of surgical protocols to avoid complications. The analysis of the performance of the ankle prosthesis could enhance the knowledge of prosthetic design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Translation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Ankle prosthesis
  • Bone stress
  • Finite element analysis
  • Joint contact pressure
  • Plantar pressure
  • Total ankle arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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