BMC Musculoskeletal DisordersBMC series – open, inclusive and trusted 2018 19:14

Frailty as a predictor of hospital length of stay after elective total joint replacements in elderly patients

Han Ting Wang, Josée Fafard, Stéphane Ahern, Pascal-André Vendittoli & Paul Hebert
Hip Knee


Total joint replacement procedures are increasing in number because of population aging and osteoarthritis development. Defined as a lack of physiological reserves and the inability to adequately respond to external stressors, frailty may be more common than expected in older patients with degenerative arthritis awaiting total joint replacements.

The aim of the present study was to assess associations between frailty and adverse outcomes, frailty prevalence among elderly patients awaiting elective TJR, and agreement between 2 frailty screening instruments.


We undertook a prospective, observational, pilot study in our institution. We enrolled patients 65 years or older who were awaiting elective knee or hip replacement surgery and evaluated them in our preoperative clinic with planned postoperative hospital length of stay greater than 24 h. Patients were asked to grade their perceived well-being on the Clinical Frailty Scale and to answer questions on the FRAIL Scale.


The Clinical Frailty Scale classified 40 patients (45.9%) as robust, 43 patients (49.4%) as prefrail and 4 patients (4.5%) as frail, while the FRAIL Scale categorized 12 patients (13.7%) as robust, 54 patients (62.0%) as prefrail, and 20 patients (22.9%) as frail. Robustness, ascertained on the Clinical Frailty Scale was, while the FRAIL Scale was not, significantly associated with shorter hospital length of stay and fewer discharges to the rehabilitation center. Both scales showed moderate mutual agreement.


Screening for frailty identified between 5% and 10% of patients at risk of adverse outcomes. The Clinical Frailty Scale was, while the FRAIL scale was not, significantly associated with hospital length of stay and discharge to rehabilitation center in our cohort of total joint replacement patients.

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