Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research: November 2015 - Volume 473 - Issue 11 - p 3535–3541 doi: 10.1007/s11999-015-4481-9 Symposium: Psychosocial Aspects of Musculoskeletal Illness

Does Race Affect Outcomes in Total Joint Arthroplasty?

Lavernia, Carlos, J., MD2,a; Villa, Jesus, M., MD1,2
Ankle Elbow Hip Knee Shoulder

Background Several studies suggest worse surgical outcomes among racial/ethnic minorities. There is a paucity of research on preoperative and postoperative pain, general health, and disease-specific measures in which race is the main subject of investigation; furthermore, the results are not conclusive.


Questions/purposes (1) Do black patients have more severe or more frequent preoperative pain, well-being, general health, and disease-specific scores when compared with white patients? (2) Are there differences between black patients and white patients after hip or knee arthroplasty on those same measures?


Methods In this retrospective study, we used an institutional arthroplasty registry to analyze data on 2010 primary arthroplasties (1446 knees and 564 hips) performed by one surgeon at a single institution. Cases from patients self-identifying as black (n = 105) and white (n = 1905) were compared (controlling for confounders, including age and ethnicity) on the following preoperative and postoperative patient-oriented outcomes: pain intensity/frequency as measured by a visual analog scale (VAS), Quality of Well-Being (QWB-7), SF-36, and WOMAC scores. T-tests, chi square, and multivariate analysis of covariance were used. Alpha was set at 0.05. Postoperative analysis was performed only on those cases that had a minimum followup of 1 year (mean, 3.5 years; range, 1-9 years). Of the 2010 arthroplasties, 37% (39 of 105) of those cases performed in black patients and 64% (1219 of 1905) of those performed in white patients were included in the final postoperative model (multivariate analysis of covariance).


Results Black patients had more severe preoperative pain intensity (VAS: 8 ± 1.8 versus 8 ± 2.0, mean difference = 0.76 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.34-1.1], p < 0.001). Black patients also had worse well-being scores (QWB-7: 0.527 ± 0.04 versus 0.532 ± 0.05, mean difference = −0.01 [CI, −0.02 to 0.00], p = 0.037). Postoperatively, pain intensity (VAS: 1 ± 3.1 versus 1 ± 1.8, mean difference= 0.8 [CI, 0.19-1.4], p= 0.010) and (QWB-7: 0.579 ± 0.09 versus 0.607 ± 0.11, mean difference= −0.049 [CI, −0.08 to −0.01], p = 0.008) were different but without clinical significance.


Conclusions Black patients underwent surgery earlier in life and with different preoperative diagnoses when compared with white patients. Black patients had worse preoperative baseline pain, well-being, general health, and disease-specific scores as well as worse postoperative scores. However, these differences were very narrow and without clinical significance. Notwithstanding, the relations of race with outcomes remain complex. Further investigations to recognize disparities and minimize or address them are warranted.


Level of Evidence Level III, prognostic study.

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