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Revision Rates and Functional Outcomes Among Severely, Morbidly, and Super-Obese Patients Following Primary Total Knee Arthroplasty

A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Chaudhry, Harman MD, MSc, FRCSC1; Ponnusamy, Karthikeyan MD1; Somerville, Lyndsay PhD1; McCalden, Richard W. MD, MSc, FRCSC1; Marsh, Jacquelyn PhD1; Vasarhelyi, Edward M. MD, MSc, FRCSC1

doi: 10.2106/JBJS.RVW.18.00184
Evidence-Based Systematic Reviews

Background: Obesity has been associated with a greater burden of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. There is some evidence that patients with a very high body mass index (BMI) may have a higher risk of complications and poor outcomes following total knee replacement compared with non-obese patients or obese patients with a lower BMI. We hypothesized that increasing degrees of obesity would be associated with deteriorating outcomes for patients following total knee replacement.

Methods: We performed a comprehensive systematic review of 4 medical databases (MEDLINE, AMED, Ovid Healthstar, and Embase) from inception to August 2016. We extracted data to determine revision risk (all-cause, septic, and aseptic) and functional outcome scores (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index [WOMAC], Knee Society Score, Oxford Knee Score, EuroQol-5D, and Short Form [SF]-12 Physical Component Summary) in patients with severe obesity (BMI ≥35 kg/m2), morbid obesity (BMI ≥40 kg/m2), and super-obesity (BMI ≥50 kg/m2) in comparison with patients with a normal BMI (<25 kg/m2). Meta-analysis was performed using a random effects model.

Results: We screened 3,142 titles and abstracts and 454 full-text articles to identify 40 eligible studies, of which 37 were included in the meta-analysis. Compared with patients with a normal BMI, the risk ratio for an all-cause revision surgical procedure was 1.19 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03 to 1.37; p = 0.02) in patients with severe obesity, 1.93 (95% CI, 1.27 to 2.95; p < 0.001) in patients with morbid obesity, and 4.75 (95% CI, 2.12 to 10.66; p < 0.001) in patients with super-obesity. The risk ratio for septic revision was 1.49 (95% CI, 1.28 to 1.72; p < 0.001) in patients with severe obesity, 3.69 (95% CI, 1.90 to 7.17; p < 0.001) in patients with morbid obesity, and 4.58 (95% CI, 1.11 to 18.91; p = 0.04) in patients with super-obesity. There were no significant differences (p > 0.05) in risk of aseptic revision. Based on the Knee Society Scores reported in a single study, patients with super-obesity had outcome scores, expressed as the standardized mean difference, that were 0.52 lower (95% CI, 0.80 lower to 0.24 lower; p < 0.001) than non-obese controls; however, no difference was observed for severe or morbidly obese patients.

Conclusions: The risk of septic revision is greater in patients with severe obesity, morbid obesity, and super-obesity, with progressively higher BMI categories associated with a higher risk. However, the risk of aseptic revision was similar between all obese and non-obese patients. Functional outcome improvements are also similar, except for super-obese patients, in whom data from a single study suggested slightly lower scores. These findings may serve to better inform evidence-based clinical, research, and policy decision-making.

Level of Evidence: Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

1Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada

E-mail address for E.M. Vasarhelyi:

Investigation performed at the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada

Disclosure: There was no source of external funding for this study. On the Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest forms, which are provided with the online version of the article, one or more of the authors checked “yes” to indicate that the author had a relevant financial relationship in the biomedical arena outside the submitted work (

Copyright © 2019 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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