Surgery avoidance rates among total knee replacement candidates following a non-invasive biomechanical intervention: A retrospective cohort studyAndrew Greene, Christopher Miles
Nearly twenty million people are affected by osteoarthritis (OA) across the UK. For end-stage knee OA, total knee replacement (TKR) is considered as the standard of care, but this major surgery carries high costs, long waiting lists, and risk for further revision surgeries. Health systems are therefore looking for effective alternatives to treat these cohorts, significantly delaying, and potentially avoiding joint replacement surgery altogether. The purpose of this study was to examine the 2-year surgery avoidance rate amongst TKR candidates that received a non-invasive biomechanical intervention.
A retrospective clinical audit was conducted on 365 NHS patients with end-stage knee OA patients eligible for TKR. Each patient was individually fitted with a non-invasive, shoe-like, biomechanical device, that alters the foot center of pressure, minimizes reported symptoms, and promotes neuromuscular control training using convex pods under the sole. Patients used the device for short periods during activities of daily living and were followed for two years. The primary outcome was surgery status after 2 years. Secondary outcomes were evaluated using the generalized linear mixed-models procedure and included changes in pain, function (WOMAC and Oxford Knee Score (OKS), and spatiotemporal gait measured at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months from baseline.
Of the 365 candidates for TKR, 305 (84%) avoided surgery at 2 years. Patients displayed significant clinical improvements over time. Six months after starting treatment, average pain decreased by 42%, average function improved by 39%, and average OKS increased by 7.6 points. These continued to improve over the 2 years. All spatial-temporal gait measures improved over time (p<0.001).
The current results suggest that a non-invasive biomechanical treatment may help end-stage knee OA patients delay knee replacement surgery for at least 2 years or avoid it altogether. This treatment may provide an effective non-surgical alternative for managing these patients in the community, alleviating pain, and improving gait and function.