Routine Patellar Resurfacing During Total Knee Arthroplasty Is Not Cost-Effective in Patients Without Patellar Arthritis

Benjamin M. Zmistowski, Yale A. Fillingham, Harold I. Salmons, Derek T. Ward, Robert P. Good, Jess H. Lonner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Currently, the decision to resurface the patella is often made irrespective of the presence of patellar arthritis. The purpose of this study is to utilize the existing literature to assess cost-utility of routinely vs selectively resurfacing the patella. Methods: Prospective randomized studies of patella resurfacing vs non-resurfacing in total knee arthroplasty (TKA) were identified through literature review. Data from these studies represented probabilities of varied outcomes following TKA dependent upon patella resurfacing. Using previously validated utility scores from the McKnee modified Health Utilities Index, endpoint utility values were provided for each potential outcome. Results: Literature review yielded a total of 14 studies with 3,562 patients receiving 3,823 TKAs, of which 1,873 (49.0%) patellae were resurfaced. Persistent postoperative anterior knee pain occurred in 20.9% vs 13.2% (P <.001) and patella reoperation was performed in 3.7% vs 1.6% (P <.001) of unresurfaced and resurfaced patella, respectively. In studies excluding those with arthritic patellae, the incidence of anterior knee pain was equivalent between groups and reoperation decreased to 1.2% vs 0% (P =.06). Patella resurfacing provided marginally improved quality-adjusted life-years (QALY) for both selective and indiscriminate patella resurfacing. When including all studies, the incremental cost per QALY was $3,032. However, when analyzing only those studies with nonarthritic patellae, the incremental cost per QALY to resurface the patella increased to $183,584. Conclusion: Patellar resurfacing remains a controversial issue in TKA. Utilizing data from new prospective randomized studies, this analysis finds that routinely resurfacing arthritis-free patellae in TKA are not cost-effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1963-1968
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • arthritis
  • cost-effective analysis
  • patella
  • resurfacing
  • selective
  • total knee arthroplasty


Dive into the research topics of 'Routine Patellar Resurfacing During Total Knee Arthroplasty Is Not Cost-Effective in Patients Without Patellar Arthritis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this