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. Some of Dr. Nelson’s tips go out weekly to more than 3,000 members of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS), and all are distributed to more than 30 orthopaedic residency programs. Those not sent to the ORS are periodically reposted in OrthoBuzz with the permission of Dr. Nelson.
Nearly 200,000 Americans have bariatric surgery each year, so it’s important to understand the long-term musculoskeletal consequences of those procedures. Gastric bypass constitutes the most common bariatric surgery and is believed to lead to bone loss. However, fracture risk in gastric-bypass patients has been insufficiently studied. Given that diabetes is an independent risk factor for fractures, any gastric bypass–fracture association should be studied in patients with and without diabetes.
That’s what Swedish researchers did in a retrospective cohort study1 of 38,971 obese patients who underwent gastric bypass—7,758 of whom had diabetes and 31,213 of whom did not. The patients in each of the two groups were propensity-score matched with controls (1 to 1). The researchers evaluated the overall risk of fracture and fall injury, along with fracture risk according to amount of weight loss and degree of calcium and vitamin D supplementation during the first year after surgery.
After a median follow-up of 3.1 years, gastric bypass was associated with an increased risk of any fracture, both in patients with diabetes (HR, 1.26) and without diabetes (HR, 1.32). Fracture risk appeared to increase with time. The risk of fall injury without fracture also increased after gastric bypass. (The increased risk of fall injury may explain some of the increased fracture risk.) Surprisingly, neither higher amounts of weight loss nor poor calcium and vitamin D supplementation during the first year after surgery were associated with increased fracture risk.
The metabolic consequences of surgically induced weight loss are significant for the obese population. Those consequences probably reach beyond bone to affect many aspects of musculoskeletal and possibly neurological homeostasis.
- Axelsson KF, Werling M, Eliasson B, Szabo E, Näslund I, Wedel H, Lundh D, Lorentzon M. Fracture Risk After Gastric Bypass Surgery: A Retrospective Cohort Study. J Bone Miner Res. 2018 Jul 16. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3553. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 30011091
When it comes to access to many things people look for, big cities offer numerous advantages over small towns. This seems to be true for consumer goods and services—and for access to health care, especially “high-tech” procedures. That is one issue that Suchman et al. touch on in their retrospective database study in the September 19, 2018 issue of The Journal.
The study evaluated almost 650,000 patients who underwent one of three meniscal procedures (meniscectomy, meniscal repair, or meniscal allograft transplantation) in New York State from 2003 to 2015. In determining which procedures were performed where, the authors found that meniscectomies and meniscal repairs—the vast majority of the procedures performed—were scattered throughout the state, but that meniscal transplants were performed almost exclusively at urban, academic hospitals. This finding is not surprising, considering the technical complexity of allograft transplantation. However, if a patient who would benefit from a meniscal allograft lived three hours from an urban, academic setting, they would either have to travel to the city to be evaluated, treated, and followed, or settle for a different procedure from a surgeon closer to home. Neither option would be optimal in terms of quality care.
At the same time, this article emphasizes that not every patient needs to go to a large hospital to receive excellent care. While a preponderance of recent data shows an association between hospital and surgeon procedure volume and patient outcomes, those data do not mean that smaller hospitals or “medium volume” surgeons should not perform certain procedures. In fact, medium volume surgeons performed the largest proportion of meniscal procedures evaluated in this study.
The fact is that the “delivery” of health care does not happen via FedEx or UPS. The burden falls on patients to transport themselves to the physician, not vice versa. And until that model drastically changes, access disparities based on geography will likely remain.
However, Suchman et al. also found that the majority of patients who underwent any meniscal procedure had private insurance—and that Medicaid patients had the lowest rates of meniscal surgery. Although disparities arising from socioeconomic/insurance status are also very difficult to address, they would seem to be more remediable than disparities related to geography.
Chad A. Krueger, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media
Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.
This month, Mengnai Li, MD, co-author of the September 19, 2018 Specialty Update on Hip Replacement, selected the five most clinically compelling findings from among the more than 100 studies covered in the Specialty Update.
The Benefits of HXLPE
–A double-blinded study that randomized patients to receive either a conventional polyethylene liner or one made from highly cross-linked polyethylene (HXLPE) found that, after a minimum of 10 years, the HXLPE group had significantly lower wear rates, lower prevalence of osteolysis, and lower revision rates than the conventional-liner group.
Outcomes for Hip Fracture vs OA
–A propensity score-matched cohort analysis of NSQIP data found that total hip arthroplasty (THA) undertaken to treat hip fractures among Medicare beneficiaries was significantly associated with an increased risk of CMS-reportable complications, non-homebound discharge, and readmission, relative to THA undertaken to treat osteoarthritis.1
Infection Risk Factors
–A multicenter retrospective study found that a threshold of 7.7% for hemoglobin A1c was more predictive of periprosthetic joint infection than the commonly used 7%, and the authors suggest that 7.7% should be considered the goal in preoperative patient optimization.2
THA in Patients with RA
–Recently published guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology and AAHKS regarding antirheumatic medication use in patients with rheumatic diseases who are undergoing THA suggest the following:
- Continuing nonbiologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Continuing the same daily dose of corticosteroids
- Withholding biologic agents prior to surgery
- Planning surgery for the end of the biologic dosing cycle.
All recommendations are conditional due to the low or moderate-quality evidence on which they were based.3
–A double-blinded, randomized trial found that oral tranexamic acid (TXA) provided equivalent reductions in blood loss in the setting of primary THA, at greatly reduced cost, compared with intravenous TXA.
- Qin CD, Helfrich MM, Fitz DW, Hardt KD, Beal MD, Manning DW. The Lawrence D. Dorr Surgical Techniques & Technologies Award: differences in postoperative outcomes between total hip arthroplasty for fracture vs osteoarthritis. J Arthroplasty. 2017 Sep;32(9S):S3-7. Epub 2017 Feb 6.
- Tarabichi M, Shohat N, Kheir MM, Adelani M, Brigati D, Kearns SM, Patel P, Clohisy JC, Higuera CA, Levine BR, Schwarzkopf R, Parvizi J, Jiranek WA. Determining the threshold for HbA1c as a predictor for adverse outcomes after total joint arthroplasty: a multicenter, retrospective study. J Arthroplasty. 2017 Sep;32(9S): S263-7: 267.e1. Epub 2017 May 11.
- Goodman SM, Springer B, Guyatt G, Abdel MP, Dasa V, George M, Gewurz- Singer O, Giles JT, Johnson B, Lee S, Mandl LA, Mont MA, Sculco P, Sporer S, Stryker L, Turgunbaev M, Brause B, Chen AF, Gililland J, Goodman M, Hurley-Rosenblatt A, Kirou K, Losina E, MacKenzie R, Michaud K, Mikuls T, Russell L, Sah A, Miller AS, Singh JA, Yates A. 2017 American College of Rheumatology/American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons guideline for the perioperative management of antirheumatic medication in patients with rheumatic diseases undergoing elective total hip or total knee arthroplasty. J Arthroplasty. 2017 Sep;32(9):2628-38. Epub 2017 Jun 16.
The intended goals of requiring electronic medical record (EMR) systems in all hospitals and clinics were rational and, for the most part, patient-centered. EMRs have prevented large numbers of potentially serious medication errors, served as a secure means of making laboratory and imaging data readily available to surgeons, and have provided an efficient mode of communication among members of health care teams.
Unfortunately, the design of most, if not all, EMR systems is focused on coding and billing, not on the doctor-patient interaction during the all-important face-to-face clinic visit. This has had the unintended consequence of requiring dense, protracted documentation of care interactions that seems to de-emphasize the most important part of the EMR entry: the physician’s thought process and treatment plan.
In the September 19, 2018 edition of The Journal, Scott et al. provide us with a unique cost-and-productivity view into the impact that implementing an EMR had within an outpatient orthopaedic clinic. During the first 6 months after a new EMR was launched, total labor costs increased, driven by attending surgeons and medical assistants spending increased time documenting visits. Although the total per-encounter cost returned to baseline levels after 6 months, more time was spent documenting encounters and less time was spent interacting with patients than before EMR implementation. So, even after a return to normal clinic “productivity” after the 6-month learning period, the price paid for increased time spent documenting on the new EMR was decreased provider-patient “face time.”
In my opinion, it is essential that we work to remedy this deficiency. Personally, I do not use EMR-provided templates for documenting physical exam findings, imaging study results, and treatment plans. Instead, I engage with the patient during the visit and make detailed notes in the EMR after the patient leaves. This probably results in “under-billing” for my services, but I am willing to pay that price to increase the value of the visit for the patient—and for my colleagues who may review my notes.
The study by Scott et al. is a necessary first step in understanding EMR ramifications in orthopaedics, but our community needs more broad-based research to further delve into the full impact of EMRs on patient care, patient satisfaction, and cost. Toward that end, the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) recently extended until September 28, 2018 the deadline for grant proposals to investigate the impact of EMR regulations on the patient-physician relationship. We must continue to address this apparent problem to improve patient care, which was the goal of EMRs in the first place.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
In 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.
During the month of September 2018, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “Hand-Grip Strength: Normative Reference Values and Equations for Individuals 18 to 85 Years of Age Residing in the United States.”
Hand-grip strength is an indicator of overall strength and a predictor of important outcomes. The normative reference values provided in this study may serve as a guide for interpreting grip-strength measurements obtained from tested individuals.
In many areas of the US, the orthopaedic workforce does not mirror the patient population being treated. The need for workforce diversity is more than a social concern or a “good-business” practice. Diversity, or the lack of it, directly affects the quality of patient care as well as access to care.
On Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 8:00 PM EST,the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) and The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (JBJS) will co-host a one-hour complimentary webinar that offers practical advice on how to achieve greater diversity in your orthopaedic workforce. The guidance comes from four orthopaedists with an impressive track record of success in meeting this challenge head-on:
- Regis O’Keefe, MD, PhD, FAOA
- Mary O’Connor, MD, FAOA
- Julie Samora, MD, PhD, MPH
- Kristy Weber, MD, FAOA
Moderated by Lisa Lattanza, MD, Professor and Vice Chair of Diversity and Professionalism and Chief of Hand, Elbow, and Upper Extremity Surgery at UCSF, this webinar will conclude with a 15-minute Q&A session during which attendees can ask questions of the panelists.
Seats are limited, so REGISTER NOW.
Annual volume projections for total joint arthroplasty (TJA) have been cited frequently and applied broadly, often to estimate future costs. But with a slowdown in the growth of the annual incidence of total knee arthroplasty (TKA), updated projections are needed, and that’s what Sloan et al. provide in the September 5, 2018 issue of JBJS.
Using the National Inpatient Sample to obtain TJA incidence data, the authors first analyzed the volume of primary TJA procedures performed from 2000 to 2014. They then performed regression analyses to project future volumes of TJA procedures. Here are the numbers based on the 2000-to-2014 data:
- Primary total hip arthroplasty (THA) is projected to grow 71%, to 635,000 annual procedures by 2030.
- Primary TKA is projected to grow 85%, to 1.26 million annual procedures by 2030.
However, the TKA procedure growth rate has slowed in recent years, and models based on 2008-to-2014 data project growth to only 935,000 annual TKAs by 2030—325,000 fewer procedures relative to the 2000-to-2014 models.
Earlier studies, notably one by Kurtz et al. in 2007, obviously could not account for the reduced growth rate in TKA after 2008. A 2008 analysis by Wilson et al., based on the Kurtz et al. data, estimated that annual Medicare expenditures on TJA procedures would climb from $5 billion in 2006 to $50 billion in 2030. “Using our projections,” say Sloan et al., “we predict that Medicare expenditures on these procedures in 2030 will be less than half of that predicted by Wilson et al.”
These findings lend credence to the authors’ observation that “it is imperative that projections of orthopaedic procedures be regularly evaluated and updated to reflect current rates.”
The number of articles published each year in orthopaedics that evaluate infections seems to approach, if not exceed, 1,000. Yet, despite all of these publications, consensus statements, and guidelines, we seem to have very few concrete recommendations about which every surgeon will say, “This is what needs to be done.” So we send out samples, run cultures, sonicate implants, and sometimes even perform DNA sequencing, and then we mix the data with selected recommendations and intuition to make our final treatment decisions. Foolproof? No, but it is the best we can do in many situations.
The article by Mijuskovic et al. in the September 5, 2018 edition of The Journal helps simplify this type of decision making in the setting of residual osteomyelitis after toe or forefoot amputation. The authors evaluated 51 consecutive patients with gangrene and/or infection who underwent either digit or partial foot amputations. They found that, after surgery, 41% of the patients without histological evidence of osteomyelitis (which the authors considered the reference, “true positive” analysis) had a positive culture from the same sample. In addition, only 12 patients (24%) had both positive histological findings and positive cultures, the criteria set forth by the Infectious Disease Society of America for the definitive diagnosis of osteomyelitis.
As interesting as the main findings of the study are, some of the “minor” results are even more curious. The decision regarding which patients received antibiotics after amputation seemed largely arbitrary, with 10 of the 14 patients who had a positive histological result not receiving any postoperative antibiotics. (Five of those patients ended up needing a secondary procedure.) In addition, because of the need for decalcification prior to analysis, the median time to receiving histological results was almost a week. Based on the findings in this study, in many instances patients are sent home or to a rehabilitation facility with antibiotics based only on the results of a potentially “false-positive” culture.
The authors conclude that their results “cast doubt on the strategy of relying solely on culture of bone biopsy specimens when deciding whether antibiotic treatment for osteomyelitis is necessary after toe or forefoot amputation.” But this paper also highlights the fact that we are still looking for definitive answers about which data to use and which to disregard when it comes to the detection and treatment of post-amputation osteomyelitis. We surgeons decide on which side to err, and we need to appreciate all three facets—data, guidelines, and patient factors—when discussing treatment options with patients.
Chad A. Krueger, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media
The incidence of patients presenting with proximal thigh and groin pain is increasing along with increased interest in recreational athletic activity. When it is associated with a history of increased physical activity, this pain profile often prompts the ordering of a hip MRI if presenting radiographs are unremarkable. However, surgeons often find it difficult to make accurate prognoses and treatment recommendations when the MRI findings suggest a femoral neck stress fracture.
In the September 5, 2018 issue of The Journal, Steele et al. provide us with helpful hints for determining when to proceed with surgical stabilization of the femoral neck in this clinical scenario. Of the femoral neck stress fracture patients in this study who progressed to a surgical procedure, >85% had an effusion on the initial MRI, compared with only 26% of those whose condition resolved with nonoperative treatment. In statistical terms, those who had a hip effusion had an 8-fold increased risk of progression to surgery compared to those without a hip effusion. Meanwhile, the overall fracture-line percentage on the initial MRI turned out to be a poor metric for predicting progression.
Stabilization of a femoral neck stress fracture with percutaneous implants usually improves pain and predictably prevents displacement of the fracture and the attendant risk of nonunion and osteonecrosis of the femoral head. Further clinical research should help validate the seemingly reliable MRI-based predictor identified by these authors.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD