Does Rehabilitation before Total Knee Arthroplasty Benefit Postoperative Recovery? A Systematic Review

Indian J Orthop. 2019 Jan-Feb;53(1):138-147. doi: 10.4103/ortho.IJOrtho_643_17.


Background: Arthritis is the most common form of joint disease. Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is the most effective surgical intervention for end-stage knee osteoarthritis. The purpose of this study is to access whether patients who participated in preoperative rehabilitation before primary TKA received any postoperative benefit compared to patients who did not participate in preoperative rehabilitation.

Materials and methods: A comprehensive search of Medline, PubMed, Embase, CENTRAL, CINAHL, Ageline, and hand searching references and abstracts was performed. Inclusion criteria included patients undergoing primary and unilateral TKA. Exclusion criteria included patients who have bilateral, unicompartmental, or revision TKA. All studies compared preoperative exercise program versus no preoperative exercise. Outcomes included patients' function, acute care length of stay (LOS), pain, and stiffness. The Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index and 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey functional scales were used to assess these outcomes. Assessment was performed within 3 months of TKA.

Results: Of 1347 articles, 1308 studies were excluded during title and abstract screening. Thirty nine articles underwent full-text screening and were narrowed to five studies matching all criteria. Two studies were combined showing a significant decrease in LOS favoring preoperative exercise (-0.93, 95% confidence interval: -1.29, -0.57). There was a lack of evidence to show any difference regarding self-reported function, stiffness, pain, and physical role.

Conclusion: Preoperative exercise program may be beneficial and is associated with a significant decrease in length of hospital stay. No conclusive evidence can be delineated from the literature with respect to clinical outcome measures. Well-designed randomized trials would strengthen this position.

Keywords: Knee arthroplasty; outcomes; prerehabilitation; systemactic review.