Does pre-operative physiotherapy improve outcomes from lower limb joint replacement surgery? A systematic review

Ilana N. Ackerman, Kim L. Bennell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


A systematic review of randomised controlled trials was performed to evaluate the effectiveness of pre-operative physiotherapy programmes on outcome following lower limb joint replacement surgery. A search of relevant key terms was used to find suitable trials, with five papers meeting the inclusion criteria for the review. The methodological quality of the trials was rated using the PEDro scale. Estimates of the size of treatment effects were calculated for each outcome in each trial, with 95% confidence intervals calculated where sufficient data were provided. Of the three trials pertaining to total knee replacement, only very small mean differences were found between control and intervention groups for all of the outcome measures. Where confidence intervals could be calculated, these showed no clinically important differences between the groups. Two papers (one study) pertaining to total hip replacements found significant improvements in WOMAC scores, hip strength and range of movement, walking distance, cadence, and gait velocity for the intervention group, compared to a control group. Estimates of treatment effect sizes for these outcomes were larger than for the total knee replacement studies, with confidence intervals showing potentially clinically important differences between group means. However, as the intervention group also received an additional intensive post-operative physiotherapy program, these results cannot be attributed solely to the pre-operative program. This systematic review shows that pre-operative physiotherapy programmes are not effective in improving outcome after total knee replacement but their effect on outcome from total hip replacement cannot be adequately determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Physiotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Outcomes assessment (health care)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Review literature

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