Patients return to work sooner after unicompartmental knee arthroplasty than after total knee arthroplasty

Arthur J. Kievit, P. Paul F. M. Kuijer, Laurens J. de Haan, Koen L. M. Koenraadt, Gino M. M. J. Kerkhoffs, Matthias U. Schafroth, Rutger C. I. van Geenen

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Purpose: It is not yet known if unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) patients are more likely to return to work sooner or have improved ability to work (i.e., workability) than total knee arthroplasty (TKA) patients. The following questions were addressed: patients were assessed to determine: (1) whether they returned to work sooner following UKA compared to TKA; (2) whether UKA patients had better WORQ function scores compared to TKA patients; and (3) if UKA patients have higher workability scores and greater satisfaction regarding workability than TKA patients. Methods: A multicenter retrospective cohort study was performed that included patients at least 2 years after having undergone either UKA or TKA surgery and on the condition that patients had been in work in the 2 years prior to surgery. Time period between stopping work and returning to work was assessed; the WORQ scores (0 = worst–100 = best) and the Work Ability Index (WAI = 0–10) and reported satisfaction with work ability. Results: UKA patients (n = 157, median 60 years, 51% male) were compared to TKA patients (n = 167, median 60 years, 49% male) (n.s.). Of the 157 UKA patients, 115 (73%) returned to work within 2 years compared to 121 (72%) of TKA patients (n.s.). More UKA patients return to work within 3 months (73% versus 48%) (p < 0.01). WORQ scores improved similarly in both groups. The WAI was also comparable between the groups. Dissatisfaction with workability was comparable (UKA 15% versus TKA 18% (n.s.). Conclusion: TKA and UKA patients have similar WORQ, WAI, and satisfaction scores. However, in this study population, UKA patients to return to work after surgery significantly sooner than TKA patients, which improves their quality of life and allows them to participate actively in society. This information can help health care providers and patients weigh-up the pros and cons and choose the best treatment and timing for patients in the working population. Level of evidence: III.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2905–2916
Number of pages12
JournalKnee surgery, sports traumatology, arthroscopy
Issue number9
Early online date30 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Return to work
  • Total knee arthroplasty
  • Unicompartmental knee arthroplasty
  • WORQ
  • Workability

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