The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 12 , 3789 - 3792

The Hidden Cost of Commercial Antibiotic-Loaded Bone Cement: A Systematic Review of Clinical Results and Cost Implications Following Total Knee Arthroplasty

King, John D. et al.


The purpose of this systematic review is to compare deep prosthetic joint infections (PJIs) between total knee arthroplasty (TKA) patients treated with either antibiotic-loaded bone cement (ALBC) or plain bone cement, and to explore the potential cost implications of commonly used bone cement regimens. We hypothesized that ALBC would not substantially reduce PJIs and would thereby present an unnecessary cost to the healthcare system.


Using the PRISMA guidelines, we reviewed articles through May 2017 involving primary TKA patients with both ALBC cohort and plain bone cement cohort. A meta-analysis was performed comparing the prevalence of deep infections between cohorts. A cost comparison for a hypothetical setting with an annual volume of 1000 TKAs was performed to compare 3 commonly used cement regimens: 2 bags of ALBC used during each case, 1 bag of ALBC with 1 bag of plain cement, and 2 bags of plain cement. Pricing at our institution is $215/bag for commercial ALBC and $60/bag for plain cement.


Eight articles were included with a total of 34,664 patients. ALBC did not reduce the PJI (ALBC = 93/8189, 1.1% vs plain = 251/26,475, 0.9%; P = .09). The estimated costs for the 3 bone cement regimens per 1000 primary TKAs were as follows: 2 bags of ALBC = $430,000/y, 1 bag of ALBC +1 bag of plain cement = $275,000/y, and 2 bags of plain cement = $120,000/y.


ALBC did not reduce the prevalence of PJI suggesting that ALBC may be an unnecessary cost to the healthcare system. Hospital systems that perform 1000 TKAs/y could save between $155,000 and $310,000/y by switching to plain cement.

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