The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 35, Issue 4, 945 - 949.e1

Frequency, Cost, and Clinical Significance of Incidental Findings on Preoperative Planning Images for Computer-Assisted Total Joint Arthroplasty

Hassebrock, Jeffrey D. et al.
Hip Knee


The frequency of incidental findings with computer-assisted total joint arthroplasty (CA TJA) preoperative imaging and their clinical significance are currently unknown.


We reviewed 573 patients who underwent primary CA TJA requiring planning imaging. Incidental findings were defined as reported findings excluding those related to the planned arthroplasty. Secondary outcomes were additional tests or a delay in surgery. Associated charges were obtained from our institution’s website. Charge and incidence data were combined with TJA volumes obtained from the 2016 National Inpatient Sample to model costs to the healthcare system.


Overall, 262 patients (45.7%) had at least 1 incidental finding, 144 patients (25.1%) had 2, and 65 (11.3%) had 3. The most common finding types were musculoskeletal (MSK, 67.7%), digestive (19.5%), cardiovascular (4.9%), and reproductive (4.7%). Also, 9.3% of patients had at least 1 non-MSK incidental finding. Both MSK and non-MSK incidental findings were more common with total hip arthroplasty compared to total knee arthroplasty (67.9% vs 42.2%, P < .0001, and 15.4% vs 8.3%, P < .05, respectively). Further testing was required in 6 cases (1.0%); 1 case required delay in surgery (0.2%). Using the 2016 volume of TJA procedures and assuming a 10%, 15%, and 25%, utilization rate of image-based CA TJA, the annual cost of additional testing was $2.7 million (95% confidence interval, $1.1-$6.3 million), $4.1 million ($1.6-$9.5 million), and $6.9 million (95% confidence interval, $2.7-$15.8 million), respectively.


Incidental findings are relatively common on planning images. Stakeholders should be aware of the hidden costs of incidental findings given the increasing popularity of image-based CA TJA.

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