The compartmental distribution of knee osteoarthritis - a systematic review and meta-analysis

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2021 Apr;29(4):445-455. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2020.10.011. Epub 2020 Nov 27.


Objectives: For a population with knee osteoarthritis (OA), determine: 1) the prevalence of single compartmental, bicompartmental and tricompartmental OA, 2) the prevalence of isolated medial tibiofemoral, lateral tibiofemoral, or patellofemoral OA, and combinations thereof.

Methods: PubMed and Web of Science databases, and reference lists of identified studies, were searched to find studies which reported on the compartmental distribution and prevalence of knee OA. Two independent reviewers assessed studies against pre-defined inclusion criteria and prevalence data were extracted along with subject characteristics. The methodological quality of each included study was assessed. A random-effects model meta-analysis was performed for each OA category to estimate the relative prevalence of OA in the knee compartments amongst people with knee OA.

Results: 16 studies (3,786 knees) met the inclusion criteria. High heterogeneity was measured. Normalised for knees with OA, estimated prevalence rates (95% CI) were: single compartmental 50% (31.5-58.3%), bicompartmental 33% (23.1-37.2%) and tricompartmental only 17% (8.8-24.8%). Isolated medial tibiofemoral OA, isolated patellofemoral OA, and combined medial tibiofemoral and patellofemoral OA were more common than tricompartmental disease, occurring in 27% (15.2-31.1%), 18% (9.9-22.7%) and 23% (14.1-27.3%) of people respectively. Single/bicompartmental patterns of disease involving the lateral tibiofemoral compartment were less common, summing to 15% (8.5-18.7%).

Conclusion: Three-quarters of people with knee OA do not have tricompartmental disease. This is not reflected in the frequency with which partial and combined partial knee arthroplasties are currently used.

Trial registration number: PROSPERO systematic review protocol (CRD42019140345).

Keywords: Bicompartmental; Epidemiology; Gonarthrosis; Prevalence; Unicompartmental.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology
  • Patellofemoral Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Patellofemoral Joint / pathology
  • Prevalence