Transfemoral prosthetic socket designs: a review of the literature

Melissa Brodie, Laura Murray, Anthony McGarry

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
1356 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction:The prosthetic socket is the interface that connects the human body to the artificial limb and allows transmission of body weight and forces during gait. The review purpose is to assess the quality of scientific evidence and compare this for a variety of available transfemoral socket designs. Comparisons will be made of socket biomechanics, metabolic efficiency and comfort, and the advantages/disadvantages associated with each design.

Methods: Socket designs included were quadrilateral (quad), ischial containment (IC), Marlo Anatomical Socket, subischial, high-fidelity (HiFi), and the Socket-less Socket. A literature review was conducted in five online databases: Compendex, Embase, PubMed, ProQuest Materials Science, and ProQuest Biological Science, using Boolean search terms and truncation of relevant keywords. Included articles were published between 1989 and 2018. A predetermined methodological criterion was used in conjunction with a modified version of the Oxford Levels of Evidence to assess and grade the quality of selected articles.

Results: Thirteen clinical studies were included in this review. Based on the chosen search strategy and quality criterion, this review found a limited, low-quality evidence base for all included socket designs. All articles, except one, compared the various socket designs (quad, quad and MAS, MAS, subischial, and HiFi) against an IC socket as this was deemed the "standard of care" design.

Conclusions: Although IC attained the highest volume of evidence, this socket design was not proven to be superior. The variety of biomechanical features pertaining to each socket design provides several advantages/disadvantages. Recommendations are made for future research.

Clinical Relevance: Findings from this literature review promote knowledge and understanding of transfemoral socket design by highlighting the underlying theory, strengths, and weaknesses of each design acknowledged to facilitate improved evidence-based practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e73-e92
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Prosthetics and Orthotics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021


  • transfemoral
  • socket
  • interface
  • biomechanics


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