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Patellofemoral arthroplasty is cheaper and more effective in the short term than total knee arthroplasty for isolated patellofemoral osteoarthritis: cost-effectiveness analysis based on a randomized trial

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The aim is to assess the cost-effectiveness of patellofemoral arthroplasty (PFA) in comparison with total knee arthroplasty (TKA) for the treatment of isolated patellofemoral osteoarthritis (OA) based on prospectively collected data on health outcomes and resource use from a blinded, randomized, clinical trial.


A total of 100 patients with isolated patellofemoral osteoarthritis were randomized to receive either PFA or TKA by experienced knee surgeons trained in using both implants. Patients completed patient-reported outcomes including EuroQol five-dimension questionnaire (EQ-5D) and 6-Item Short-Form Health Survey questionnaire (SF-6D) before the procedure. The scores were completed again after six weeks, three, six, and nine months, and again after one- and two-year post-surgery and yearly henceforth. Time-weighted outcome measures were constructed. Cost data were obtained from clinical registrations and patient-reported questionnaires. Incremental gain in health outcomes (quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs)) and incremental costs were compared for the two groups of patients. Net monetary benefit was calculated assuming a threshold value of €10,000, €35,000, and €50,000 per QALY and used to test the statistical uncertainty and central assumptions about outcomes and costs.


The PFA group had an incremental 12 month EQ-5D gain of 0.056 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01 to 0.10) and an incremental 12 month cost of minus €328 (95% CI 836 to 180). PFA therefore dominates TKA by providing better and cheaper outcomes than TKA. The net monetary benefit of PFA was €887 (95% CI 324 to 1450) with the €10,000 threshold, and it was consistently positive when different measures of outcomes and different cost assumptions were used.


This study provides robust evidence that PFA from a one-year hospital management perspective is cheaper and provides better outcomes than TKA when applied to patients with isolated patellofemoral osteoarthritis and performed by experienced knee surgeons.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(4):449–457.

Correspondence should be sent to J. Sørensen; email:

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