Risk Factors Associated with Obesity in Joint Replacement Surgery

Risk Factors Associated with Obesity in Joint Replacement Surgery

In an article published by Dr. Fournier, MD, et al, in the August issue of the Journal of Arthroplasty, the effects of obesity on joint replacement were reviewed. The authors noted that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) predicts that the proportion of the U.S. population age 65 or older will increase from 12.4% in the year 2000 to 19.6% in the year 2030. This means that it is projected that 71,000,000 people will be over the age of 65 in 2030. Many of these patients require joint replacement surgery. The rewards of joint replacement surgery are great, but the risks associated with the procedure can have catastrophic implications. Obesity has been associated with increased complications after joint replacement surgery. According to the CDC, from 1984 to 1998, the obese population increased by 22%. In 2012, 35% of the U.S. population was considered obese (BMI greater than 30). A variety of studies have shown that patients who are obese have an increased number of medical comorbidities that can impact the outcomes after joint replacement.

Obesity has an impact on surgical technique in that the operation takes longer to perform, positioning of the patients can be challenging, component malposition happens more frequently in obese individuals, and there can be injuries to the surgical team as a result of handling the obese patient. Complications after surgery include an increased risk of wound complications, increase risk of infection, a higher likelihood of reoperation and readmission to the hospital, all of which will impact the cost of medical care. With the evolution of bundled payments where hospitals and health care systems will be liable for readmission rates, a greater screening of patients prior to surgery to optimize various medical comorbidities will be required to decrease the complication rate.

Over the next several years, patients will see and increased emphasis on optimizing medical comorbidities and overall health prior to surgical intervention to improve outcomes and decrease complication rates.

About The Author

William Barrett, MD is a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in primary and revision hip and knee replacement. He performs over 500 hip and knee replacement procedures each year. He is actively involved in clinical research on Anterior Approach Total Hip Replacement (THA), Alternative Bearings for THA, Less Invasive Approaches to joint replacement and use of computerized vs. custom cutting guides for knee replacement. As a nationally recognized joint replacement surgeon, he lectures globally on hip and knee replacement topics. He is active in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Continuing Medical Education programs. He is a board examiner for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

3 Comments

  1. Deborah Dittman

    My husband has a diagnoses bone on bone left knee condition that causes him to limp and sometimes causes the knee to give out. But he has minor pain generally. Only when he walks a mile or so does he complain of pain. Is this normal? Is there any other treatment besides total knee replacement that we should investigate?
    Thank you, Sincerely, Deborah Dittman

    1. Valley Communications

      Good Morning Deborah,

      Thank you for reading the blog! We sent your question to Dr. Barrett and he wrote back “The indication for knee replacement is increasing pain and decreasing function. If pain is not limiting then anti-inflammatory medications an low impact exercise will work in the short term.”

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