A recent study from the University of California (Los Angeles) compared the cost-effectiveness of these two procedures. Both were used for patients with joint damage from osteoarthritis (OA).
The unicompartmental was selected for patients with changes on one side of the joint. The total joint was implanted in patients with generalized joint destruction on both sides.
The unicompartmental implant represented a cost savings of about 25 per cent over a TKR. The value added to the patient's life in terms of reduced pain and improved function was equal. Complications and problems after surgery can drive the costs up for either type of implant.
Long-term benefit may be less with the unicompartmental because survival of the implant may be less. This is based on studies so far that reflect the long-term outcomes of TKRs. Similar studies for unicompartmental implants are under way.