Journal Club Resident Spotlight: Praharsha Mulpur

JBJS is pleased to highlight the orthopaedic residents who help implement the Robert Bucholz Resident Journal Club Grants at their institutions. The grant program promotes career-long skills in evaluating the orthopaedic literature. Click here for more information.

Name: Praharsha Mulpur, MD

Affiliation: Sunshine Bone and Joint Institute, Hyderabad, India

What was the topic of the most “dynamic” journal club meeting you have had so far this year?

Tuberculosis (TB) of the hip joint is still prevalent in India. We are often faced with situations of advanced destruction of the hip joint requiring total hip replacement (THR), but THR is usually delayed until the disease condition becomes quiescent. However, TB is known to persist subclinically and to reactivate after surgery. One of the journal club articles we discussed was a “practice changer” as far as THR in active TB was concerned: Kim et al. Total hip replacement for patients with active tuberculosis of the hip. Bone Joint J, 2013; 95-B:578-82.

What are the top 3 characteristics of an engaging, enlightening journal club presentation?

The most important characteristics include: (1) Clinical relevance: The article chosen should generate discussion on a topic that is clinically relevant and not one that has already been “settled” or “dismissed.” Not all “historical” articles are clinically relevant in the 21st century. (2) Participation: Participants should be well-versed with the topic prior to the meeting, which allows detailed discussion with different perspectives. (3) Brevity: Presentations of the article(s) being discussed should be clear and concise.

Aside from orthopaedic content, what have you been reading lately?

I am following several podcasts, both clinical and nonclinical. I am also reading articles from the Farnam Street blog by Shane Parrish, The New York Times, and a nonfiction book titled Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your journal-club activities?

Unfortunately, our in-person journal clubs have been halted due to the ongoing risk of COVID transmission, and our institute and department have adopted a completely virtual academic program. This has advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, we are able to involve senior faculty, both national and international, to participate in the journal club discussions. Apart from our monthly internal journal club, we have an ongoing academic relationship with the department of orthopaedics at the University of Miami for a monthly journal club. With this, our residents and fellows gain international perspectives on topics of clinical significance. On the downside, nothing beats an in-person meeting. Group dynamics and participation are always better in a room than on a Zoom screen.

How has free access to JBJS Clinical Classroom benefited you and your journal club?

JBJS Clinical Classroom is a valuable educational resource and is highly recommended for orthopaedic residents. The content is excellent and helped me cover a lot of topics without having to go back to a reference textbook. The progress meter is useful to assess personal progress. One of the best features is the JBJS Clinical Classroom Library. Every topic has links to the best or most-cited references, which makes studying easy.

Journal Club Resident Spotlight: Agustin Albani Forneris

JBJS is pleased to highlight the orthopaedic residents who help implement the Robert Bucholz Resident Journal Club Grants at their institutions. The grant program promotes career-long skills in evaluating the orthopaedic literature. Click here for more information.

Name: Agustin Albani Forneris, MD

Affiliation: Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, Argentina

What was the topic of the most “dynamic” journal club meeting you have had so far this year?

Many articles presented in our journal club ignited debate, not only about their findings but also their design and methodology. One standout was the article by Matsunaga et al. (Minimally Invasive Osteosynthesis with a Bridge Plate Versus a Functional Brace for Humeral Shaft Fractures: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2017 Apr 5;99[7]:583-592), which is a prospective randomized study comparing minimally invasive osteosynthesis vs functional bracing for the treatment of humeral shaft fractures. It is quite unusual that a Level-I prospective study like this was designed in Latin America. Our debate focused primarily on identifying which patients in our population would benefit from one treatment or another, in order to apply specific indication criteria to our daily practice. In turn, several hypotheses were raised that stimulated ideas for future projects.

Based on your journal club experiences, what are the top 3 characteristics of an engaging, enlightening journal club presentation?

(1) The commitment of the participants. We encourage all of our 43 residents to not only read the article in advance but also to write a critical review as if they were reviewers of a journal.

(2) Selection of the article. We encourage residents to select controversial studies that trigger debate about results and methodology. It is often valuable to criticize an article whose methodology is controversial to analyze which aspects would make the same study more solid (i.e., selection bias, randomization, data collection, statistical analyses, etc.)

(3) Inviting an experienced faculty surgeon. This is always inspiring to all residents, helping us to write and review articles and transmitting to us their passion for research.

Aside from orthopaedic content, what have you been reading lately?

I am a technology fan, so I usually read specialized magazines on electronic devices and reviews about new gadgets on the market. During holidays, I love to read historical novels that transport me to another place and time. Reading about the achievements of people living at a time when life expectancy did not exceed 30 years amazes me.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your journal-club activities?

Paradoxically, the pandemic empowered our journal-club activities. The substantial decrease in elective surgery to prioritize medical resources for Covid-patients, in addition to the proliferation of virtual applications, gave residents more accessibility to and availability for academic activities. The pandemic also enabled several staff surgeons to join our program, and that enriched the discussions.

How has your free access to JBJS Clinical Classroom benefited you and your journal club?

JBJS Clinical Classroom provides us the opportunity to link one of our most valuable learning tools with the journal club by synchronizing the topics from the resident program classes with the selected journals. JBJS Clinical Classroom also enables us to individualize each resident’s progress and to reinforce the areas that present the greatest difficulty.

Low Adherence to Open-Fracture Antibiotic Guidelines

The prompt administration of prophylactic antibiotics is considered a critical component of open-fracture management. In 2011, the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) recommended updates to traditional antibiotic administration, including gram-positive coverage for Gustilo Type-I and Type-II fractures, the addition of gram-negative coverage for Type-III, and additional penicillin for the presence of fecal or clostridial contamination. Concerns regarding the side effects of antibiotics, along with changing patterns in bacteria resistance, have led many treating physicians to consider alternative antibiotic choices.

In a recent JBJS article, Lin et al. report on the level of adherence to open-fracture antibiotic guidelines (both traditional and EAST recommendations), analyzing data collected as part of 2 large, ongoing, multicenter trials. They also evaluated the association of Gustilo type, wound contamination, and multifracture injuries with antibiotic choice and duration.

Included were 1,234 patients from 24 medical centers in the US and Canada, all of whom received antibiotics on the day of admission. While cefazolin monotherapy was the most commonly prescribed regimen (53.6%), 54 different combinations of prophylactic antibiotics were prescribed. Lin et al. found moderate adherence to traditional antibiotic treatment guidelines for Gustilo Types-I and II fractures and low adherence for Type-III, and less-than-optimal compliance with the EAST recommendations: 31% of Gustilo Type-I and Type-II fractures received gram-negative coverage, and 54.9% of Type-III fractures did not.

The authors offer many plausible reasons for low compliance, including increased incidence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus infections, concerns regarding the nephrotoxicity of aminoglycosides, and the more frequent use of intraoperative topical antibiotics.

The median duration of antibiotic use following wound closure in this study was 2 days. The authors note that the most widely recommended duration in the literature is 3 days after wound closure, which they add, contradicts the <24 hours recommended by the EAST guidelines (for Type-III fractures, discontinuation within 72 hours post-injury or 24 hours after soft-tissue coverage).

The study provides helpful insight into the sometimes contradictory and confusing guidelines for open-fracture antibiotic prophylaxis and the variations that exist in current practice patterns. It also begs the question: is it time for a stringent new look at the guidelines and more high-quality research into which practices help ensure the best patient outcomes and the most sensible antibiotic stewardship?

Matthew R. Schmitz, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media

 

STAR Ankle Component Fracture: Awareness, Not Alarm

OrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. In response to a recent “safety communication” from the FDA, the following commentary comes from Ariel Palanca, MD; Adam Bitterman, DO: and Christopher Gross, MD.

During the past decade, total ankle replacement (TAR) has been challenging the gold standard of ankle fusion for treatment of end-stage ankle arthritis. Improvements in TAR component design and refined surgical techniques have led to more predictable and reproducible outcomes.

On March 15, 2021, however, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a Safety Communication about the Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement (STAR Ankle), a product line that DJO Surgical acquired from Stryker in November 2020. The FDA’s statement cites a “higher than expected” rate of fracture of the device’s mobile-bearing polyethylene component. The communication goes on to suggest that patients younger than 55 years old and those with an active lifestyle may have a higher risk of component fracture than older, more sedentary patients.

The STAR Ankle received premarket approval from the FDA in 2009, and the FDA is compiling data from 2 post-approval trials of the device. In August 2019, Stryker issued a safety notification regarding the higher-than-expected fracture risk for STAR polyethylene implanted before August 2014. The recent FDA safety notification states there may also be a high risk of fracture for STAR polyethylene components implanted after August 2014, although the agency’s notification acknowledges that “the long-term fracture rate is not known in devices manufactured after the 2014 packaging change.”

The “packaging change” mentioned above refers to the August 2014 changeover when STAR polyethylene started to be packaged in a foil pouch, which virtually eliminates oxidation of the polyethylene and should therefore reduce fracture rates. Additionally, many peer-reviewed journal articles have reported lower STAR-component fracture rates than those found in the post-approval trials at equal or longer follow-ups.

It’s also important to note that the 8-year follow-up FDA study that revealed a 13.8% cumulative polyethylene-fracture rate only included 87 of the 606 STAR patients in the clinical trial. Patients with complications are often more likely to follow up than those with no complications, creating a potential negative bias.

Still, to err on the side of caution, the FDA suggests that surgeons who treat and follow patients with a STAR implant closely monitor them–especially younger, more active patients–for potential component fractures until more post-approval data is analyzed to further clarify any risk.

Ariel Palanca, MD is an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon at Arch Health Medical Group in Escondido, California. Adam Bitterman, DO (@DrAdamBitterman) is a foot and ankle specialist, an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, and a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board. Christopher Gross, MD is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle disorders at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board.

Proximal Humeral Fractures: More Data on Nonunion Risk

Proximal humeral fractures tend to occur in a bimodal distribution, namely, in younger, primarily male patients and in older (>65 years of age), primarily female patients. In the latter population, such fractures are often related to low bone density, and we in the orthopaedic community now recognize the imperative to evaluate at-risk individuals through measures such as DXA scanning and laboratory assessments of bone health in order to institute appropriate monitoring and pharmacotherapy.

Regarding the treatment of these fractures, several large trials have demonstrated that, for select fracture patterns, nonsurgical care results in clinical and functional outcomes that are equal to or better than surgical care with open reduction and internal fixation or arthroplasty. The question for treating clinicians is: are there proximal humeral fracture patterns that have higher rates of complications (chiefly nonunion) following nonsurgical care?

In a retrospective study reported in JBJS, Goudie and Robinson evaluated the rate of nonunion among patients who were treated nonoperatively for a proximal humeral fracture at their regional trauma center in the UK. They also sought to develop and validate a prediction model to assess nonunion risk, measuring the effect of 19 patient demographic and radiographic variables on healing.

Overall, 231 (10.4%) of the 2,230 included patients experienced nonunion. Among those with valgus angulation of the humeral head (395 patients), the nonunion prevalence was <1%, and none of the other variables evaluated were associated with increased risk of nonunion in a multivariable analysis. However, among the 1,835 patients with neutral or varus angulation of the head, the prevalence of nonunion was 12.4%, and decreasing head-shaft angle, increasing head-shaft translation, and smoking were independently predictive of nonunion.

Important to note is the residual pain and diminished function that often accompanies nonunion. Still, the authors rightly point out that “surgery aimed solely at preventing nonunion exposes patients to the risk of other complications that are not encountered with nonoperative treatment.” But, based on these findings about fracture morphology, they conclude that “medically fit patients with translated and/or angulated fractures should be counseled about smoking cessation and considered for surgery to avoid the debilitating effects of subsequent nonunion.” Patients with these fracture characteristics deserve closer scrutiny in our efforts to provide the best treatment for proximal humeral fractures.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

Click here for a JBJS Clinical Summary on proximal humeral fractures.

Trimming the Fat (Pad) in Knee OA

This post comes from Fred Nelson, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon in the Department of Orthopedics at Henry Ford Hospital and a clinical associate professor at Wayne State Medical School. It has been sent to >3,000 members of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS). For more information about the ORS, visit http://www.ors.org

The knee joint is comprised of cartilage, fibrocartilage, bone, synovium, ligaments, a fibrous capsule, and adipose tissue, the last of which includes the large anterior infrapatellar fat pad (IFP). The role of synovial inflammatory cells and cytokines in knee osteoarthritis (OA) has been well studied. The IFP is also rich in stem cells and inflammatory cells. Because Hartley guinea pigs naturally develop a form of knee OA that is similar to human disease, researchers recently used them as a model for elucidating a possible role of the IFP in knee OA.1

Ten 3-month-old guinea pigs had a unilateral IFP excision from one knee, with sham surgery performed on the opposite knee. Hartley guinea pigs typically develop OA after three months, and this intervention sought to determine whether IFP excision protected against OA. Gait analysis data were collected prior to surgery and then monthly until the animals were harvested at 7 months of age, at which point researchers performed microcomputed tomography (microCT) and histopathology on all 20 knee joints.

In knees with IFP resection, fibrous connective tissue replaced the adipose tissue. Stride length was not statistically different for either hindlimb throughout the study. Joints with resected IFPs had a decreased microCT score compared to contralateral intact knees (p <0.0001), indicating healthier cartilage. Histopathologically, the mean modified Mankin score of knees with IFPs removed was 2.556 versus 12.56 in contralateral knees (p <0.0004).

Surgeons commonly resect the fat pad during reconstructive knee surgery in humans, with no known reports of adverse effects beyond decreased range of motion due to local fibrosis. A recent review of the contribution of the IFP and synovium to knee OA pain2 suggests that synovial tissue and adipose tissue may act as a “functional unit” and have a combined effect on OA pathogenesis and, in all probability, OA pain and progression.

References

  1. Afzali MF, Radakovich LB, Pixler ZC, Campbell MA, Sanford JL, Marolf AJ, Donahue T, Santangelo, Kelly S. Early removal of the infrapatellar fat pad beneficially alters the pathogenesis of primary osteoarthritis in the Hartley guinea pig ORS 2020 Annual Meeting Paper No.0166
  2. Belluzzi E, Stocco E, Pozzuoli A, Granzotto M, Porzionato A, Vettor R, De Caro R, Ruggieri P, Ramonda R, Rossato M, Favero M, Macchi V. Contribution of Infrapatellar Fat Pad and Synovial Membrane to Knee Osteoarthritis Pain. Biomed Res Int. 2019 Mar 31;2019:6390182. doi: 10.1155/2019/6390182. eCollection 2019.PMID: 31049352

Outpatient Knee/Hip Arthroplasty Yields Fewer Adverse Events

The National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database contains more than a half-million records of patients who received a total knee arthroplasty (TKA), unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA), or total hip arthroplasty (THA) from 2009 through 2018. Fewer than 4% of those procedures were done in an outpatient setting, but patient demand for outpatient arthroplasty is rising rapidly.

With retrospective data like that from NSQIP, the most meaningful comparisons between inpatient and outpatient procedures come through a propensity score-matched analysis. Propensity score matching pairs up patients in each group according to multiple factors thought to influence outcome. In a recent study in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Lan et al. used propensity score matching to compare inpatient and outpatient arthroplasty in terms of adverse events and readmissions.

What the Researchers Did:

  • Matched each outpatient case of TKA, UKA, and THA from the database with 4 unique inpatient cases based on age, sex, ASA class, race, BMI, type of anesthesia, and history of hypertension, smoking, congestive heart failure, and diabetes
  • Compared inpatient vs outpatient rates of 30-day adverse events (both minor and severe) and readmissions
  • Identified risk factors for adverse events and readmissions

What the Researchers Found:

  • For all 3 arthroplasty types, patients who underwent an outpatient procedure were less likely to experience any adverse event, when compared with those who underwent an inpatient procedure.
  • The above adverse-event findings held true when TKAs, UKAs, and THAs were analyzed separately.
  • Outpatient procedure status was an independent protective factor against the risk of adverse events.
  • For all 3 procedures, readmission rates were similar among inpatients and outpatients. (The 2 most common reasons for readmission were infections and thromboembolic events.)
  • Clinicians are probably (and reasonably) selecting healthier patients to undergo outpatient procedures, but 42% of the outpatient cohort had an ASA class ≥3, and 55% had a BMI ≥30 kg/m2.

In their abstract, the authors cited “increased case throughput” as one rationale for outpatient arthroplasty, but this study provides convincing evidence that adverse-event reduction is another compelling reason for certain patients to consider outpatient knee and hip procedures.

Machine Learning Algorithm May Predict Postfracture Infection

Infection after surgery to treat a tibial shaft fracture can have devastating consequences, with significant associated costs and burdens. Although research has identified general risk factors that increase the likelihood of infection (including complexity of injury and fracture patterns and patient-related factors such as smoking and diabetes), predicting risks for individual patients remains difficult.

In a recent study in The Journal, investigators from the Machine Learning Consortium reported on an algorithm they developed to predict the risk of  infection in specific patients who receive operative treatment for a tibial shaft fracture. To develop their model, the researchers used high-quality data from the SPRINT (Study to Prospectively Evaluate Reamed Intramedullary Nails in Patients with Tibial Fractures) and FLOW (Fluid Lavage of Open Wounds) randomized controlled trials.

The Australian researchers “trained” 5 machine learning algorithms and tested them against various performance measures to evaluate 1,822 fractures, including 170 (9%) that developed an infection. Based on predictive performance in that derivation portion of the study, 3 algorithms were validated and 1 prediction model was found to be superior. In that model, Gustilo-Anderson Type IIIA and IIIB fractures, age, AO/OTA type 42C3 fractures, crush injuries, and falls were the strongest predictors of infection.

Researchers have made their model available in an online, open-access prediction tool. Although the authors emphasize that this preliminary tool is intended for research and not for widespread clinical use, I think it has profoundly positive potential. Being able to risk-stratify a patient with a tibial shaft fracture at or near the time of admission could allow surgeons to closely monitor—and intervene sooner—in fracture cases at risk for infection, thereby possibly preventing devastating complications. This prediction tool certainly needs external validation prior to “prime-time” adoption, but when it comes to exploring artificial intelligence and machine learning in orthopaedics, the future is now.

Matthew R. Schmitz, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media

What’s New in Hand and Wrist Surgery 2021

Every month, JBJS publishes a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 14 specialty areas. Click here for a collection of all such OrthoBuzz Guest Editorial summaries.

This month, author Christopher J. Dy, MD, MPH summarizes the 5 most compelling findings from the 40 studies highlighted in the most recent What’s New in Hand and Wrist Surgery.”

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

–Corticosteroid injection is one modality for managing carpal tunnel syndrome, and a recent study examined the accuracy of needle placement1. Of 756 simulated injections, correct placement was noted for 572 (76%). The needle was placed in the median nerve 66 times (8.7%), and the carpal tunnel was missed 118 times (15.6%). As noted by the study authors, “safety of carpal tunnel injection remains an important concern.”

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

–One recent study evaluating patient-reported outcomes of in situ decompression for cubital tunnel syndrome found that 66 (86%) of 77 patients were satisfied2. All of the patients who were not satisfied had preoperative weakness of the muscles innervated by the ulnar nerve.

Distal Radial Fracture

–A retrospective radiographic analysis of 273 uninjured adult distal radii found that the volar cortical angle (VCA) ranged from 23° to 43° (mean, 32°)3. With most volar locking plates having a fixed angle of 18° to 30°, there is a strong possibility of a mismatch between the patient’s VCA and the implant. If the patient’s VCA exceeds the implant’s fixed angle, undercorrection of sagittal tilt may result if the plate is used to guide reduction in treating a distal radial fracture.

Dupuytren Contracture

–A recent report presented a single surgeon’s experience over an 11-year time frame with 3 common treatments of Dupuytren contracture4. The rates of reintervention after needle aponeurotomy were 24% at 2 years and 61% at 5 years; after collagenase injection at the same time points, 41% and 55%; and after surgical fasciectomy, 4% at both 2 and 5 years. When factoring in cost, needle aponeurotomy appeared to be a high-value intervention.

Scapholunate Dissociation

–Among 203 patients who underwent  3-ligament tenodesis for scapholunate injury, improvement in patient-reported outcomes at 1 year was noted for 79%, but 10% had no change, and 11% had worse patient-reported outcomes5. Indications for 3-ligament tenodesis may need further clarification.

References

  1. Green DP, MacKay BJ, Seiler SJ, Fry MT. Accuracy of carpal tunnel injection: a prospective evaluation of 756 patients. Hand (N Y). 2020 Jan;15(1):54-8. Epub 2018 Jul 13.
  2. Yeoman TFM, Stirling PHC, Lowdon A, Jenkins PJ, McEachan JE. Patient-reported outcomes after in situ cubital tunnel decompression: a report in 77 patients. J Hand Surg EurVol. Vol 2020 Jan;45(1):51-5. Epub 2019 Oct 30.
  3. Gandhi RA, Hesketh PJ, Bannister ER, Sebro R, Mehta S. Age-related variations in volar cortical angle of the distal radius. Hand (N Y). 2020 Jul;15(4):573-7. Epub 2018 Dec 31.
  4. Leafblad ND, Wagner E, Wanderman NR, Anderson GR, Visscher SL, Maradit Kremers H, Larson DR, Rizzo M. Outcomes and direct costs of needle aponeurotomy, collagenase injection, and fasciectomy in the treatment of Dupuytren contracture. J Hand Surg Am. 2019 Nov;44(11):919-27. Epub 2019 Sep 17.
  5. Blackburn J, van der Oest MJW, Poelstra R, Selles RW, Chen NC, Feitz R; Hand-Wrist Study Group. Three-ligament tenodesis for chronic scapholunate injuries: short-term outcomes in 203 patients. J Hand Surg EurVol. Vol 2020 May;45(4):383-8. Epub 2019 Nov 11.

 

Outcomes of Joint-Preserving Surgery in RA-Affected Feet

Dramatic improvements in medical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have led to marked reductions in joint damage and deformities. Consequently, surgical methods for treating RA-related foot problems have gradually evolved from joint-sacrificing to joint-preserving procedures. In a recent issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Yano et al. reported on outcomes of 105 feet in RA patients treated with joint-preserving methods followed up for a mean of 6 years.

What the Researchers Did:

  • Performed a proximal rotational closing-wedge osteotomy of the first metatarsal and modified shortening oblique osteotomies of the lesser metatarsals
  • Recorded Self-Administered Foot Evaluation Questionnaire (SAFE-Q) scores preoperatively and at latest follow-up
  • Measured hallux valgus angle (HVA), intermetatarsal angle (IMA), and medial sesamoid position before surgery, 3 months after surgery, and at the latest follow-up
  • Tracked delayed wound healing, hallux valgus recurrence, nonunion, and reoperations
  • Calculated Kaplan-Meier survivorship with reoperation as the endpoint

What the Researchers Found:

  • Surgery was associated with significantly improved median SAFE-Q scores, relative to preoperative values.
  • The average HVA, IMA, and grade of medial sesamoid positioning decreased significantly, compared with preoperative measurements.
  • Kaplan-Meier survivorship at 7 years was 89.5%.
  • Delayed wound healing was found in 20% of the feet (all wounds healed with nonoperative treatment), hallux valgus recurrence in 10.5% of the feet, and reoperation in 10.5% of the feet.

Yano et al. emphasize several advantages of joint-sparing over joint-sacrificing surgery: preserved range of motion, stability of the metatarsophalangeal joint, and improved plantar-pressure distribution. However, these advantages and the “satisfactory” long-term outcomes noted above come with substantial complications that foot-and-ankle surgeons will strive to address in the future.