The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery; May 20, 2020; 102 (10): 889

Low Preoperative Albumin Levels Predict Adverse Outcomes After Total Joint Arthroplasty

Kishawi Deena, BS; Schwarzman Garrett, MD; Mejia Alfonso, MD, MPH; Hussain Awais K., MD; Gonzalez Mark H., MD
Hip Knee
Background: Low albumin levels have previously been shown to be a risk factor for increased complications in the 30-day postoperative period after total hip or knee arthroplasty. In this study, we examined the effect that albumin levels have on complications in all total joint primary arthroplasties or revisions (shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle, and fingers).
Methods: Patients who underwent a primary total joint arthroplasty or revision from 2005 to 2015 and who had preoperative serum albumin concentration levels recorded were identified from the U.S. National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database. Patients were grouped into those with normal serum albumin concentrations (≥3.5 g/dL) and those who were hypoalbuminemic (<3.5 g/dL); hypoalbuminemia was subdivided into quartiles for statistical analysis. Univariate analyses were conducted with use of the Student t test for categorical outcomes and the chi-square test for continuous variables. Following univariate analysis, all significant comorbidity variables for both the primary and revision arthroplasty groups were used in a multivariate regression analysis to determine independent association of hypoalbuminemia and postoperative outcomes.
Results: Using available data from 2005 to 2015, 135,008 patients fit the eligibility criteria, including those who had undergone primary arthroplasty (n = 125,162) and those who had undergone revision arthroplasty (n = 9,846). The revision arthroplasties included the shoulder (2%), hip (46%), and knee (52%), and the primary arthroplasties included the shoulder (3%), hip (39%), knee (57%), and other (1%). We found that patients who had lower albumin levels had a greater rate of postoperative complications including cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accident, organ or space surgical site infection, sepsis, septic shock, pneumonia, renal insufficiency in general, unplanned intubation, return to the operating room within 30 days, urinary tract infection, and wound infection (all p < 0.005).
Conclusions: There was a significant difference in 30-day postoperative complications between patients with normal preoperative albumin levels and those with low albumin levels after all primary total joint arthroplasties or revisions. Patients with low albumin levels were at significantly increased risk for infection, pneumonia, sepsis, myocardial infarction, and other adverse outcomes. Further research is needed to develop interventions to improve serum albumin concentrations preoperatively to mitigate adverse outcomes.
Level of Evidence: Prognostic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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