Bone Joint J 2019;101-B(7 Supple C):28–32

What are the implications of withholding total joint arthroplasty in the morbidly obese?

B. D. Springer, K. M. Roberts, K. L. Bossi, S. M. Odum, D. C. Voellinger
Ankle Elbow Hip Knee Shoulder Wrist


The aim of this study was to observe the implications of withholding total joint arthroplasty (TJA) in morbidly obese patients

Patients and Methods

A total of 289 morbidly obese patients with end-stage osteoarthritis were prospectively followed. There were 218 women and 71 men, with a mean age of 56.3 years (26.7 to 79.1). At initial visit, patients were given information about the risks of TJA in the morbidly obese and were given referral information to a bariatric clinic. Patients were contacted at six, 12, 18, and 24 months from initial visit.


The median body mass index (BMI) at initial visit was 46.9 kg/m2 (interquartile range (IQR) 44.6 to 51.3). A total of 82 patients (28.4%) refused to follow-up or answer phone surveys, and 149 of the remaining 207 (72.0%) did not have surgery. Initial median BMI of those 149 was 47.5 kg/m2 (IQR 44.6 to 52.5) and at last follow-up was 46.7 kg/m2 (IQR 43.4 to 51.2). Only 67 patients (23.2%) went to the bariatric clinic, of whom 14 (20.9%) had bariatric surgery. A total of 58 patients (20.1%) underwent TJA. For those 58, BMI at initial visit was 45.3 kg/m2 (IQR 43.7 to 47.2), and at surgery was 42.3 kg/m2 (IQR 38.1 to 46.5). Only 23 patients (39.7%) of those who had TJA successfully achieved BMI < 40 kg/m2 at surgery.


Restricting TJA for morbidly obese patients does not incentivize weight loss prior to arthroplasty. Only 20.1% of patients ultimately underwent TJA and the majority of those remained morbidly obese. Better resources and coordinated care are required to optimize patients prior to surgery.

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