Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy November 2017, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 3620–3636

All-polyethylene versus metal-backed tibial component in total knee arthroplasty

Longo, U.G., Ciuffreda, M., D’Andrea, V. et al.


The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the clinical outcomes, rate of revisions and complications of all-polyethylene tibial and metal-backed tibial components in patients treated with knee arthroplasty for primary or secondary osteoarthritis.



A systematic review of the literature according to the PRISMA guidelines was performed. A comprehensive search of PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, Cochrane, Embase, and Google Scholar databases using various combinations of the keywords such as “knee”, “arthroplasty”, “metal-backed”, and “all-polyethylene”, since inception of databases to 2016, was performed.



Thirty-two articles, describing patients with all-polyethylene tibial or metal-backed tibial components in the setting of osteoarthritis, were included. A total of 68,202 knees in 58,942 patients were included, with an average age at surgery of 69.3 years, ranging from a mean age of 57.9–82 years. The mean KSS was 82.4 and 81.3 (n.s.), the mean KSS(F) was 73.6 and 74.9 (p = 0.04), the mean ROM was 104.5 and 104.6 (n.s.), and the mean HSS was 87 and 86, each, respectively, for the metal-backed tibial components group and all-polyethylene tibial components group. The overall rate of revisions was 1.90 %. The rate of revision in the metal-backed tibial components group was 1.85 %, whilst the rate of revision in the all-polyethylene tibial components group was 2.02 % (p < 0.00001).



Metal-backed tibial and all-polyethylene tibial components did not show any significant difference in most of the included outcome scores, but statistical differences were found in terms of complications and revision rate. These items have a negative impact on the cost-effectiveness of all-polyethylene tibial components. Even if all-polyethylene tibial components show similar clinical outcome score, equivalent range of knee motion, and long-term survival compared to metal-backed tibial components, complications and revision rate seem to lead the surgeon to prefer the last ones. The clinical relevance of this study is that metal-backed tibial components should be preferred in TKA surgery because complications are higher using all-polyethylene tibial components. On the other hand, the quality of evidence, according to GRADE system, is low underling the necessity of more randomised study to clarify these items.


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