Computer-assisted decision analysis in orthopedics: resurfacing the patella in total knee arthroplasty as an example.

Journal of Arthroplasty

PubMedID: 10794222

Zangger P, Detsky A. Computer-assisted decision analysis in orthopedics: resurfacing the patella in total knee arthroplasty as an example. J Arthroplasty. 2000;15(3):283-8.
The purpose of the present study was to illustrate the use of computer-assisted decision analysis in making decisions in the field of orthopaedic surgery, using the choice between resurfacing and not resurfacing the patella in total knee arthroplasty as an example. We used a decision analysis technique based on probability theory and on Bayesian logic, with the help of an especially developed computer software. The process involves building a decision tree, searching for probabilities and utilities in the literature, folding back the tree to compute the baseline result, and running sensitivity analyses. Our literature search provided 26 useful articles, only 3 of which were randomized controlled trials. In the baseline analysis, both options were rated similarly, with resurfacing the patella faring slightly better. Sensitivity analyses revealed that not resurfacing becomes the procedure of choice if the probability of postoperative anterior knee pain with an unresurfaced patella falls below 14%, or if the probability of having pain with a resurfaced patella rises above 8% or if the utility of patellar implant failure falls below 80% of the utility of a perfect health state. Computer-assisted decision analysis is a promising, evidence-based tool to assist clinical decision making in orthopaedic surgery. However, its validity is limited by the poor quality of data found in the orthopaedic literature, especially the scarcity of randomized controlled trials.