Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®: May 2015 - Volume 473 - Issue 5 - p 1702–1708 doi: 10.1007/s11999-014-4110-z Clinical Research

Short-term Complications Have More Effect on Cost-effectiveness of THA than Implant Longevity

Shearer, David W., MD, MPH1; Youm, Jiwon, MD, MS2; Bozic, Kevin J., MD, MBA1,3,a

Background Outcomes research in THA has focused largely on long-term implant survivorship as a primary outcome and emphasized the development of new implant technologies. In contrast, strategies to improve short-term outcomes, such as the frequencies of periprosthetic joint infections and unplanned readmissions, have received less attention.


Questions/purposes We asked whether reductions in periprosthetic joint infections and early readmissions would have greater influence on the net monetary benefit (a summation of lifetime cost and quality of life) for THA compared with equivalent reductions in aseptic loosening.


Methods A Markov model was created using decision-analysis software with six health states and death to represent seven major potential outcomes of THA. We compared the effect of a 10% reduction in each of the following outcomes: (1) periprosthetic joint infection, (2) hospital readmission, and (3) aseptic loosening. Procedure costs (not charges) were derived from our hospital cost-accounting system. Probabilities were derived primarily from the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry, and utilities were estimated from a previous study at our institution using the time trade-off method. The primary outcome of the study is the net monetary benefit, which combines the reductions in cost and improvement in health-related quality of life in a single metric. Quality of life is expressed in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), which are calculated by multiplying the utility of a health state (ranging from 0 to 1) by the duration of time in the health state. The cost and QALYs are reported separately as secondary outcomes. One-way and multivariate sensitivity analyses were performed including a probabilistic sensitivity analysis to account for uncertainty in model inputs.


Results The net monetary benefit for a 10% reduction in periprosthetic joint infections was USD 278 (95% CI, USD 239-295) per index procedure compared with USD 174 (95% CI, USD 150-185) and USD 113 (95% CI, USD 94-129) for reductions in aseptic loosening and early readmission, respectively. Compared with the base case, reductions in cost associated with a 10% reduction in periprosthetic joint infections, early readmissions, and aseptic loosening were USD 98, USD 93, and USD 75 per index procedure, respectively. The increase in QALYs for an equivalent reduction in periprosthetic joint infections, aseptic loosening, and early readmissions were 0.0036, 0.002, and 0.0004 QALYs, respectively. Results were most sensitive to age, baseline rate of readmission, periprosthetic joint infection, aseptic loosening, and the costs of readmission and revision THA.


Conclusions Strategies to reduce periprosthetic joint infections may have a greater effect on the cost and long-term effectiveness of THA than further enhancements in implant longevity. Reductions in the rate of readmission resulted in greater reductions in cost but not quality-of-life, and therefore had smaller effect on the net monetary benefit compared with aseptic loosening. Surgeons preferentially should engage in strategies focusing on periprosthetic joint infections to improve the value of THA care.


Level of Evidence Level II, economic and decision analysis.

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