The cost of the implant as part of a total knee arthroplasty accounts for a substantial portion of the costs for the overall procedure: all-polyethylene tibial components cost considerably less than cemented metal-backed tibial components. We performed a systematic review of the literature to determine whether the clinical results of lower-cost all-polyethylene tibial components were comparable with the results of a more expensive metal-backed tibial component.Methods:
We searched The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, EBSCO CINAHL, the bibliographies of identified articles, orthopaedic meeting abstracts, health technology assessment web sites, and important orthopaedic journals. This search was performed for the years 1990 to the present. No language restriction was applied. We restricted our search to Level-I studies involving participants who received either an all-polyethylene or a metal-backed tibial implant. The primary outcome measures were durability, function, and adverse events. Two reviewers independently screened the papers for inclusion, assessed trial quality, and extracted data. Effects estimates were pooled with use of fixed and random-effects models of risk ratios, calculated with 95% confidence intervals. Heterogeneity was assessed with the I2 statistic. Forest plots were also generated.Results:
Data on 1798 primary total knee implants from twelve studies were analyzed. In all studies, the median or mean age of the participants was greater than sixty-seven years, with a majority of the patients being female. There was no difference between patients managed with an all-polyethylene tibial component and those managed with a metal-backed tibial component in terms of adverse events. There was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of the durability of the implants at two, ten, and fifteen years postoperatively, regardless of the year or how durability was defined (revision or radiographic failure). Finally, with use of a variety of validated measures, there was no difference between the two groups in terms of functional status at two, eight, and ten years, regardless of the measure used.Conclusion:
A less expensive all-polyethylene component as part of a total knee arthroplasty has results equivalent to those obtained with a cemented metal-backed tibial component. Using a total knee implant with a cemented all-polyethylene tibial component could save the healthcare system substantial money while obtaining equivalent results to more expensive cemented designs and materials.Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.