The likelihood of total knee arthroplasty following arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis: a systematic review

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2017 Oct 4;18(1):408. doi: 10.1186/s12891-017-1765-0.


Background: Arthroscopic surgery is a common treatment for knee osteoarthritis (OA), particularly for symptomatic meniscal tear. Many patients with knee OA who have arthroscopies go on to have total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Several individual studies have investigated the interval between knee arthroscopy and TKA. Our objective was to summarize published literature on the risk of TKA following knee arthroscopy, the duration between arthroscopy and TKA, and risk factors for TKA following knee arthroscopy.

Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science for English language manuscripts reporting TKA following arthroscopy for knee OA. We identified 511 manuscripts, of which 20 met the inclusion criteria and were used for analysis. We compared the cumulative incidence of TKA following arthroscopy in each study arm, stratifying by type of data source (registry vs. clinical), and whether the study was limited to older patients (≥ 50) or those with more severe radiographic OA. We estimated cumulative incidence of TKA following arthroscopy by dividing the number of TKAs among persons who underwent arthroscopy by the number of persons who underwent arthroscopy. Annual incidence was calculated by dividing cumulative incidence by the mean years of follow-up.

Results: Overall, the annual incidence of TKA after arthroscopic surgery for OA was 2.62% (95% CI 1.73-3.51%). We calculated the annual incidence of TKA following arthroscopy in four separate groups defined by data source (registry vs. clinical cohort) and whether the sample was selected for disease progression (either age or OA severity). In unselected registry studies the annual TKA incidence was 1.99% (95% CI 1.03-2.96%), compared to 3.89% (95% CI 0.69-7.09%) in registry studies of older patients. In unselected clinical cohorts the annual incidence was 2.02% (95% CI 0.67-3.36%), while in clinical cohorts with more severe OA the annual incidence was 4.13% (95% CI 1.81-6.44%). The mean and median duration between arthroscopy and TKA (years) were 3.4 and 2.0 years.

Conclusions: Clinicians and patients considering knee arthroscopy should discuss the likelihood of subsequent TKA as they weigh risks and benefits of surgery. Patients who are older or have more severe OA are at particularly high risk of TKA.

Keywords: Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy; Arthroscopy; Osteoarthritis; Total knee arthroplasty.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / statistics & numerical data*
  • Arthroscopy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / surgery*
  • Registries*
  • Risk Assessment