Acta Orthopaedica, 88:3, 288-293, DOI: 10.1080/17453674.2017.1279496

Is decreasing mortality in total hip and knee arthroplasty patients dependent on patients’ comorbidity?

Eva N Glassou, Alma B Pedersen & Torben B Hansen
Hip Knee

Background and purpose — Mortality after primary total hip and knee arthroplasty (THA and TKA) has declined, and the proportion of THA and TKA patients with comorbid conditions has increased. We therefore wanted to examine changes in comorbidity burden over time and the impact of comorbid on mortality following primary total hip and knee arthroplasty in patients with osteoarthritis.

Patients and methods — We used the Danish arthroplasty registers to identify THA and TKA patients from 1996 through 2013. From administrative databases, we collected data on pre-surgery hospital history for all patients, which were used to calculate the Charlson comorbidity index (CCI). Patients were divided into 4 groups: CCI-none, CCI-low, CCI-moderate, and CCI-high. We calculated the relative risk (RR) of mortality within 90 days after surgery with a 95% confidence interval (CI), with stratification according to CCI group and year of surgery.

Results — 99,962 THAs and 63,718 TKAs were included. The proportion of THAs with comorbidity increased by 3–4% in CCI-low, CCI-moderate, and CCI-high patients, from 1996–1999 to 2010–2013. The overall 90-day mortality risk declined for both procedures. Compared to CCI-none, THA patients with low, moderate, and high comorbidity burdens had an RR of 90-day mortality of 1.9 (95% CI: 1.6–2.4), 1.9 (CI: 1.5–2.5), and 3.3 (CI: 2.6–4.2), respectively. Similar increases in proportions and RRs were observed in TKAs.

Interpretation — Despite the fact that the proportion of THA and TKA patients with comorbidities has increased over the past 18 years, the overall mortality has declined. The mortality risk depended on the comorbidity burden and did not decline during the study period for THA and TKA patients with a moderate or high comorbidity burden at the time of surgery.

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