The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 35, Issue 4, 926 - 932.e1

The Cost of Malnutrition in Total Joint Arthroplasty

Bala, Abiram et al.
Hip Knee

Background

Malnutrition is a known risk factor for complications and adverse outcomes after elective total joint arthroplasty (TJA), but little is known about the burden this risk factor places on the healthcare system. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the 90-day impact of malnutrition on medical and surgical complications and understand the increase in global reimbursements associated with TJA in malnourished patients.

Methods

We queried a combined private-payer and Medicare database from 2007 to 2016 for TJA using International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision and Current Procedural Terminology codes. Patients with serum albumin level of <3.5 g/dL were gender, age, and mean Elixhauser Comorbidity Index matched against a cohort with a normal serum albumin level. Odds ratios and confidence intervals were calculated for complications at 90 days postoperatively. Mean index and 90-day global reimbursements were calculated for the two matched groups and compared using P-values.

Results

3053 protein malnourished patients receiving TJA were identified, and 12,202 matched protein nourished patients receiving TJA served as controls. At 90 days, the malnourished groups had increased risk for failure of multiple organ systems, periprosthetic joint infection, and reoperation. The mean 90-day increase in reimbursement was $3875 associated with performing a TJA on a protein malnourished patient ( P < .001).

Conclusion

This study demonstrates an association between malnourished patients and postoperative complications as well as significantly increased reimbursements. Understanding the reimbursement increases at 90 days for TJA in protein malnourished patients is important in the era of bundled payments.

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