The article “Declining Rates of Osteoporosis Management Following Fragility Fractures in the U.S., 2000 through 2009” by Balasubramanian, et al. in the April 2, 2014 JBJS is a bit discouraging, but it will hopefully serve as a wake-up call for orthopaedic surgeons to re-engage with our patients to diagnose and treat previously undetected osteoporosis.
Fragility fractures–which primarily affect the vertebrae, hip, distal radius, or proximal humerus–are often the initial indication of osteoporosis in older individuals. For more than a decade, orthopaedic surgeons treating these fractures have been strongly encouraged to evaluate patients in this age group for the osteoporosis generally associated with these fractures. The American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) in 2005 began developing the Own the Bone program, specifically addressing the need to evaluate and treat osteoporosis, as well as the fracture, in these patients. The AOA has formed liaisons with several other national organizations to advance this program, and by late 2013, 44 states had hospitals implementing Own the Bone at their local institutions.
This article is sobering. Despite concerted efforts to link care of fragility fractures to evaluation and treatment of co-existing osteoporosis, these authors report an actual decrease in the rate of osteoporosis management for these patients. Only one-third of the women and one-sixth of the men in this retrospective cohort study were evaluated and treated according to current clinical guidelines.
This is an important public health issue. Despite the fact osteoporosis management involves non-operative treatment, it is essential that orthopaedic surgeons become more cognizant of the association between fragility fractures and osteoporosis treatment, and put in place a protocol to ensure that these patients are evaluated and treated for osteoporosis, as well as for the fracture. Osteoporosis may not be under the direct guidance of the orthopaedic surgeon, but the recognition of this potential problem is squarely within the practice scope of orthopaedists, who are well positioned to initiate secondary prevention measures for these older individuals.
Perhaps more than any other advance in orthopaedic surgery, total joint arthroplasty has improved the lives of millions of patients. Originally introduced in the form of hip replacement, nearly all of the major joints of the musculoskeletal system can now undergo arthroplasty, and total knee arthroplasty has established itself as one of the most successful interventions for reducing pain and improving function and quality of life. All total joint arthroplasties are associated with a risk of failure, and it is believed that, with the exception of the oldest patients, most individuals who undergo an arthroplasty will require a revision at some point during their lifetime. With total knee arthroplasty, advances in implant materials and design as well as operative technique have increased implant longevity and decreased the rate of revision to <5% within ten years.
As is typical of a successful intervention, surgeons who perform total knee arthroplasty recognize the need or opportunity to “push the envelope.” There is great demand for offering knee arthroplasty to younger, more active patients, and, in doing so, it is projected that the number of revision procedures will grow from the current annual incidence of 38,000 up to 270,000 by the year 2030. Thus, understanding the causes of failure will be essential for guiding future strategies.
In this month’s article by Bou Monsef et al., a systematic approach to identifying mechanisms of failure and appropriate treatment protocols for failed total knee arthroplasty are introduced. The authors make the important point that avoiding operative intervention before a diagnosis is made, even in cases of pain with no clear etiology, is essential. Individual discussions on the roles of infection, loosening and component failure, instability, stiffness, patellofemoral complications, and even neuromas are presented and placed in their proper perspective.
Indeed, one of the greatest frustrations in orthopaedic practice is the inability to identify the causative factors for a condition. The failure of a total knee arthroplasty may be associated with one or more contributing factors, including rare and unusual conditions such as the formation of heterotopic bone, the development of complex regional pain syndrome, the occurrence of hemarthrosis, and even hypersensitivity to certain metals. Interestingly, up to 17% of the general population expresses some sensitivity to the metals used in total knee implants such as nickel, chromium, and cobalt.
Failure of total knee arthroplasty can be devastating to the patient, but early diagnosis and careful systematic analysis of the potential etiologies can lead to a favorable outcome. This article provides a clear and concise approach to this problem and is a “must read” for surgeons who perform this operation now and the residents and fellows who will be caring for these patients in the decades to come.
Thomas A. Einhorn, MD, Editor
The article “Adult human mesenchymal stem cells delivered via intra-articular injection to the knee following partial medial menisectomy” is an interesting report of a randomized, double-blind, controlled study carried out over a 2-year period following subtotal medial menisectomy.
While the positive impact of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on both the meniscus and articular cartilage has been demonstrated in animal models, this study looks at the potentially beneficial effects in humans after partial menisectomy. MSC injection in this setting resulted in no apparent complication secondary to these injections. Pain in patients with osteoarthritis was also improved over 2 years compared to those patients treated only with hyaluronate injection. Most intriguing, though, was that in 24% of patients with lower dose MSC and in 6% with higher dose MSC, there was an increase in meniscal volume on MRI by > 15%. None in the control group showed any volume change.
With the large number of meniscal injuries treated surgically in all age groups, MSC injection following partial menisectomy may prove to be a safe method to decrease osteoarthritic pain and potentially increase the volume of the remaining meniscus.