Revision Rates and Functional Outcomes Among Severely, Morbidly, and Super-Obese Patients Following Primary Total Knee Arthroplasty: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


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.


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/m), morbid obesity (BMI ≥40 kg/m), and super-obesity (BMI ≥50 kg/m) in comparison with patients with a normal BMI (<25 kg/m). Meta-analysis was performed using a random effects model.


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.


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.


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