Bone Joint J 2015;97-B:786–92.

A randomised trial of all-polyethylene and metal-backed tibial components in unicompartmental arthroplasty of the knee

J. R. B. Hutt, P. Farhadnia, V. Massé, M. Lavigne, P-A. Vendittoli

This randomised trial evaluated the outcome of a single design of unicompartmental arthroplasty of the knee (UKA) with either a cemented all-polyethylene or a metal-backed modular tibial component. A total of 63 knees in 45 patients (17 male, 28 female) were included, 27 in the all-polyethylene group and 36 in the metal-backed group. The mean age was 57.9 years (39.6 to 76.9). At a mean follow-up of 6.4 years (5 to 9.9), 11 all-polyethylene components (41%) were revised (at a mean of 5.8 years; 1.4 to 8.0) post-operatively and two metal-backed components were revised (at one and five years). One revision in both groups was for unexplained pain, one in the metal-backed group was for progression of osteoarthritis. The others in the all-polyethylene group were for aseptic loosening. The survivorship at seven years calculated by the Kaplan–Meier method for the all-polyethylene group was 56.5% (95% CI 31.9 to 75.2, number at risk 7) and for the metal-backed group was 93.8% (95% CI 77.3 to 98.4, number at risk 16) This difference was statistically significant (p <  0.001). At the most recent follow-up, significantly better mean Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index Scores were found in the all-polyethylene group (13.4 vs 23.0, p = 0.03) but there was no difference in the mean Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome scores (68.8; 41.4 to 99.0 vs 62.6; 24.0 to 100.0), p = 0.36). There were no significant differences for range of movement (p = 0.36) or satisfaction (p = 0.23).


This randomised study demonstrates that all-polyethylene components in this design of fixed bearing UKA had unsatisfactory results with significantly higher rates of failure before ten years compared with the metal-back components.

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