The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 31, Issue 10, 2091 - 2098

Risk and Cost of 90-Day Complications in Morbidly and Superobese Patients After Total Knee Arthroplasty

Meller, Menachem M. et al.


This study investigated the risk and cost of postoperative complications associated with morbid and super obesity after total knee arthroplasty (TKA).


A retrospective cohort study was conducted of patients who underwent TKA using Medicare hospital claims data. The International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis code V85.4x was used to identify morbidly obese patients (body mass index [BMI] ≥40 kg/m2) and superobese patients (BMI ≥50 kg/m2) in 2011-2013. Patients without any BMI-related diagnosis codes were used as controls. Twelve complications occurred in the 90-day period after TKA were analyzed using multivariate Cox models, adjusting for patient demographic, morbidity, and institutional factors. In addition, hospital charges and payments were compared from primary surgery through subsequent 90 days.


Morbidly obese patients showed a significantly elevated risk in most complications examined, with a 2-fold or higher risk in dislocation and wound dehiscence. In addition, death, periprosthetic joint infection, acute renal failure, and knee revision had significant hazard ratios between 1.5 and 2.0. However, risk of deep vein thrombosis and acute myocardial infarction did not increase for the morbidly obese patients. Superobese patients had significant increase in risk of infection, wound dehiscence, acute renal failures, revisions, death, and readmission compared with patients with BMI 40-49 kg/m2. Significant dose–response trend was found between the level of BMI and risk for death, dislocation, implant failure, infection, readmission, revision, wound dehiscence, and acute renal failure. Controlling for patient and institutional factors, each TKA had an average total hospital charges of $75,884 among superobese patients, compared to $65,118 for the control group, a difference of $10,767. Medicare payment for the superobese patients was also higher, but only by $2703.


Morbidly obese patients pose a significantly higher risk profile than normal-weight patients in a broad range of complications after TKA. Superobese patients add another layer of risk compared with less obese patients and are considerably more expensive to treat by health care systems. Technical difficulties and the high demand on resources present a severe challenge for providing treatment for such patients.

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