After some relatively poor results in the 1980s, there was a “reboot” with total ankle arthroplasty (TAA) in the late 1990s to improve outcomes so that TAA would provide a reliable treatment for patients with end-stage ankle arthritis. Advances in the understanding of the biomechanical requirements for ankle prostheses and which patients might benefit from them the most—plus the realization that TAA is a technically demanding surgical procedure that requires advanced education—have vastly improved the outcomes of these procedures. In fact, TAA has become reliable enough that we can now begin to tease out the patient variables that seem to affect outcomes.
In the February 6, 2019 issue of The Journal, Cunningham et al. use an extensive clinical TAA registry to identify patient characteristics that impact TAA outcomes. The good news is that, 30-plus years after the inauspicious outcomes of first-generation TAA, overall pain and function significantly improved among the patients in this study. However, current smoking was associated with poorer patient outcomes at the 5-year follow-up, as it seems to be with the vast majority of orthopaedic procedures. Also, at a mean 1- to 2-year follow-up, a previous surgical procedure on the ankle was associated with significantly smaller improvements in at least 1 patient-reported outcome. This makes sense because prior surgery leads to scarring and its attendant risk of infection and increased difficulty with exposure and the ideal placement of TAA components. Cunningham et al. also identified depression as being associated with worse TAA outcomes at all follow-up points, adding to our already ample body of evidence that patient psychological factors play a major role in orthopaedic surgical results.
Interestingly, these authors found that patients undergoing staged bilateral ankle arthroplasty did not do as well as those undergoing simultaneous bilateral TAAs. And somewhat surprisingly, the authors found obesity to be associated with better outcomes at the 5-year follow-up. This may be related to increased bone density and greater soft-tissue coverage, but this finding is still seemingly counterintuitive based on everything else we know about the negative associations between obesity and outcomes of other joint replacements.
As more surgeons and orthopaedic centers make use of TAA, it will be important for us to follow the lead of the total knee and total hip communities in providing large datasets to further clarify which factors—patient-related and surgical—lead to the best and worst patient outcomes. This study by Cunningham et al. provides a starting point upon which other research will hopefully build.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
Every month, JBJS publishes a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in one of 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz subspecialty summaries. This month, Michael J. Taunton, MD, author of the January 16, 2019 “What’s New in Adult Reconstructive Knee Surgery,” selected the five most compelling findings from among the more than 100 noteworthy studies summarized in the article.
Cementless vs Cemented TKA Fixation
—A matched case-control study of 400 primary total knee arthroplasties (TKAs) found that cementless TKAs had a 0.5% rate of aseptic loosening over a mean follow-up of 2.5 years, while cemented TKAs had an aseptic loosening rate of 2.5%.1
TKA Component Size in Obese Patients
—Among 35 revision-TKA patients with a varus collapse of the tibia, 29 weighed >200 lbs. Fehring et al. found that patients with implants at the small end of the range of the manufacturer’s tibial size offering and with >5° of preoperative varus were at increased risk of tibial-component failure.2
—A retrospective multivariate analysis of >4,300 patients who underwent outpatient TKA and >128,900 patients who underwent inpatient TKA found that, within 1 year, those who had outpatient procedures were more likely to experience a tibial and/or femoral component revision due to a noninfectious cause, irrigation and debridement, explantation of the prosthesis, and stiffness requiring manipulation under anesthesia.
—In a randomized trial of patients undergoing TKA, one group received 15 mg/kg of systemic intravenous vancomycin, and a second group received intraosseous regional administration of 500 mg vancomycin into the tibia. Mean tissue concentrations of the antibiotic were 34.4 mg/g in the intraosseous group and 6.1 mg/g in the intravenous group, suggesting that intraosseous administration provides a significantly higher tissue concentration of that antibiotic. 3
TKA Anesthesia Protocol
—A retrospective review of 156 consecutive patients who underwent primary TKA found that procedures performed with mepivacaine spinal anesthesia led to fewer episodes of urinary catheterization and shorter mean length of stay compared with procedures performed with bupivacaine spinal anesthesia.4
- Miller AJ, Stimac JD, Smith LS, Feher AW, Yakkanti MR, Malkani AL. Results of cemented vs cementless primary total knee arthroplasty using the same implant design. J Arthroplasty.2018 Apr;33(4):1089-93. Epub 2017 Dec
- Fehring TK, Fehring KA, Anderson LA, Otero JE, Springer BD. Catastrophic varus collapse of the tibia in obese total knee arthroplasty. J Arthroplasty.2017 May;32(5):1625-9. Epub 2017 Jan 30.
- Chin SJ, Moore GA, Zhang M, Clarke HD, Spangehl MJ, Young SW. The AAHKS Clinical Research Award: intraosseous regional prophylaxis provides higher tissue concentrations in high BMI patients in total knee arthroplasty: a randomized trial. J Arthroplasty.2018 Jul;33(7S):S13-8. Epub 2018 Mar 15.
- Mahan MC, Jildeh TR, Tenbrunsel TN, Davis JJ. Mepivacaine spinal anesthesia facilitates rapid recovery in total knee arthroplasty compared to bupivacaine. J Arthroplasty.2018 Jun;33(6):1699-704. Epub 2018 Jan 16.
Periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs) create a significant burden for patients, surgeons, and healthcare systems. That is why so much research has gone into how best to optimize certain patients preoperatively—such as those with obesity, diabetes, or kidney disease—to decrease the risk of these potentially catastrophic complications. Still, it is not always possible or feasible to optimize every “high-risk” patient who would benefit from a total hip or knee replacement, and therefore many such patients undergo surgery with an increased risk of infection. In such cases, surgeons need additional strategies to decrease PJI risk.
In the December 19, 2018 issue of JBJS, Inabathula et al. investigate whether providing high-risk total joint arthroplasty (TJA) patients with extended postoperative oral antibiotics decreased the risk of PJI within the first 90 days after surgery. In their retrospective cohort study, the authors examined >2,100 total hip and knee replacements performed at a single suburban academic hospital. The patients in 68% of these cases had at least one risk factor for infection. Among those high-risk patients, about half received 7 days of an oral postoperative antibiotic, while the others received only the standard 24 hours of postoperative intravenous (IV) antibiotics.
Relative to those who received IV antibiotics only, those who received extended oral antibiotics experienced an 81% reduction in infection for total knee arthroplasties and a 74% reduction in infection for total hip arthroplasties. I was stunned by such large reductions in infection rates obtained simply by adding an oral antibiotic twice a day for 7 days. Most arthroplasty surgeons go to great lengths to decrease the risk of joint infection by percentages much less than that.
While further investigations are needed and legitimate concerns exist regarding the propagation of antimicrobial-resistant organisms from medical antibiotic misuse, these data are very exciting. I agree with Monti Khatod, MD, who, in his commentary on this study, says that “care pathways that aim to improve modifiable risk factors should not be seen as obsolete based on the findings of this paper.” Furthermore, the study itself is at risk for treatment and selection biases that could greatly influence its outcomes. Nevertheless, getting a successful result in these patients is challenging and, if validated with further data, this research may help surgeons obtain better outcomes when treating high-risk patients in need of hip or knee replacements.
Chad A. Krueger, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media
Long-term population-based research has documented associations between high BMI and decreased longevity and increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiac complications. Musculoskeletally speaking, the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee has been strongly associated with elevated BMI, although the impact of high BMI on the development of hip osteoarthritis has been less clearly defined.
To detail the impact of increased BMI on the developing hip, in the January 3, 2018 issue of The Journal, Novais et al. painstakingly evaluated 128 pelvic CT images from a group of adolescents presenting with abdominal pain but no prior history of hip pathology. The authors found a significant association between increasing BMI percentiles and femoral head-neck alterations, including:
- Increased alpha angle
- Reduced head-neck offset and epiphyseal extension, and
- More posteriorly tilted epiphyses.
Taken together, these morphological anomalies resemble, in the authors’ words, “a post-slip or mild slipped capital femoral epiphysis [SCFE] deformity.”
While the association between elevated body mass and the risk of SCFE has long been known, the impact of high BMI on the morphology of the “normal” hip had not, until now, been described in detail. It makes intuitive mechanical sense that Novais et al. found no impact of high BMI on acetabular anatomy, but because of the orientation of the proximal femoral growth plate, it does make sense that high BMI affects the growing femoral head-neck junction.
It is my hope that consolidating these data with the abundance of other evidence about the health risks of high BMI in growing children will further coalesce worldwide efforts to lower the intake of sugar and “empty carbs” among growing children, and will further spur investment in programs to increase physical activity among this vulnerable age group.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
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, James T. Ninomiya, MD, MS, lead author of the September 20, 2017 Specialty Update on Hip Replacement, selected the five most clinically compelling findings from among the more than 50 studies covered in the Specialty Update.
Obesity and THA Outcomes
–Obesity is a well-established risk factor for perioperative THA complications. A prospective registry-based study found that reoperation and implant revision or removal rates increased with increasing BMI. More specifically, increasing BMI was associated with increased rates of early hip dislocation and deep periprosthetic infection.
–Two studies 1, 2 demonstrated that patients who have intra-articular injections within 3 months prior to THA experienced nearly double the risk of periprosthetic infection in the first postoperative year, compared with those in noninjection control groups.
Surgical Approaches to THA
–A study of >2,100 patients revealed that, despite claims to the contrary, there were no differences in dislocation rates between those who underwent THA using the direct anterior approach and a propensity-score matched cohort who underwent THA using a posterior approach.3
–What is the optimal temperature for an orthopaedic operating room? Anecdotes are often used to justify keeping operating rooms at uncomfortably high temperatures, which leads to discomfort and fatigue for members of the surgical team. A comprehensive literature review led authors to suggest that preoperative patient warming, intraoperative patient warming with forced-air devices, and keeping OR temperature at ≤19° C is the ideal combination for comfort while still maximizing patient safety and outcomes.
Return to Driving
–Following joint replacement, patients often ask when it will be safe to return to driving. A meta-analysis of 19 studies concluded that the mean time for return to baseline reaction time for braking was 2 weeks following a right-sided hip replacement and 4 weeks following a right-sided knee replacement.4 The authors stressed, however, that return-to-driving recommendations should be individualized for each patient.
- Schairer WW, Nwachukwu BU, Mayman DJ, Lyman S, Jerabek SA. Preoperative hip injections increase the rate of periprosthetic infection after total hip arthroplasty. J Arthroplasty. 2016 ;31(9)(Suppl):166–169.e1. Epub 2016 Apr 22.
- Werner BC, Cancienne JM, Browne JA. The timing of total hip arthroplasty after intraarticular hip injection affects postoperative infection risk. J Arthroplasty. 2016 ;31(4):820–3. Epub 2015 Sep 1.
- Maratt JD, Gagnier JJ, Butler PD, Hallstrom BR, Urquhart AG, Roberts KC. No difference in dislocation seen in anterior vs posterior approach total hip arthroplasty. J Arthroplasty. 2016 ;31(9)(Suppl):127–30. Epub 2016 Mar 15.
- van der Velden CA, Tolk JJ, Janssen RPA, Reijman M. When is it safe to resume driving after total hip and total knee arthroplasty? A meta-analysis of literature on post-operative brake reaction times. Bone Joint J. 2017 ;99-B(5):566–76.
Obesity can negatively affect outcomes after total hip arthroplasty (THA), and an inadvertent reduction in cup anteversion may be one reason why, according to findings from Brodt et al. in the May 4, 2016 edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.
The authors retrospectively analyzed postoperative radiographs from 790 THA patients (all of whom were operated on via a direct lateral approach) within three BMI ranges: normal weight (BMI <25 kg/m2), moderately obese (BMI between 25 and 34 kg/m2), and morbidly obese (BMI of ≥35 kg/m2). Reduced cup anteversion significantly correlated with increasing BMI and younger patient age, with the morbidly obese group demonstrating a 3.4° anteversion reduction compared with the normal-weight group. The authors attribute the reduced anteversion to increased pressure applied to dorsal and ventral acetabular rim retractors to ensure adequate visualization during THA surgery in obese patients.
When the authors applied their findings to the Lewinnek “safe zone” for acetabular positioning, only 59% of the morbidly obese patients were in that zone. While this study was not designed to track subsequent dislocations (a common consequence of incorrect cup positioning), the authors claim that these findings are nevertheless clinically important. “Knowledge of a systemic error in obese patients should raise surgeons’ awareness of the need to perform cup implantation with greater attention,” they conclude.
Obesity is one of the most serious public health problems in the 21st century, and body weight is becoming an important consideration in orthopaedic procedures, especially joint arthroplasty. Two new studies in the February 3, 2016 Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery illuminate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and hip-arthroplasty outcomes.
In a prognostic study based on registry data (21,361 consecutive hip replacements), Wagner et al. analyzed postsurgical complications and reoperations using BMI as a continuous variable. They found strong associations between increasing BMI and increasing rates of reoperation, implant revision or removal, early hip dislocation, and both superficial and deep infections. Although researchers are just starting to examine the efficacy of preoperative interventions to reduce BMI (see related OrthoBuzz post), Wagner et al. suggest that “collaborative interventions between care providers and patients may be undertaken to modify risk factors, such as BMI, before elective procedures.” A commentary on this study lauds the authors for analyzing BMI with a “dose-response” perspective, but the commentators note that “BMI neither remains constant nor follows a predictable trend over time.”
In a separate therapeutic study by Issa et al., clinical and patient-reported outcomes of primary THA were lower in super-obese patients (BMI ≥ 50 kg/m2) than in matched patients with normal BMI (<30 kg/m2). Specifically, after a mean follow-up of six years, compared with the normal-BMI group, the super-obese group had:
- A 4.5 times higher odds ratio (OR) of undergoing a revision
- A 7.7 times higher OR of surgical complications, including superficial and deep infections
- Significantly lower mean values on the Harris hip score, the physical and mental components of the SF-36, and the UCLA activity score.
Despite these between-group findings, super-obese patients still experienced significant clinical improvements compared with their preoperative status. However, they saw an average of 2.5 previous surgeons who refused to perform the procedure prior to being referred to the authors.
The two numbers that you’ll want to remember from the computer model-based cost-effectiveness study by McLawhorn et al. in the January 20, 2016 Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery are $13,910 and $100,000. The first number is an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER). Here, it’s the estimated added cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) for morbidly obese patients (BMI ≥35 kg/m2) with end-stage knee osteoarthritis who undergo bariatric surgery two years prior to total knee arthroplasty (TKA), compared with similar patients who undergo immediate TKA.
The $100,000 is the threshold “willingness to pay” (WTP) that the authors used in their evaluation. Willingness to pay reflects the amount society and healthcare payers such as Medicare and private insurers are willing to pay for a patient to accrue one year lived in perfect health.
Here’s another way to view these findings: Morbidly obese patients who undergo TKA are at increased risk for wound-healing problems, superficial and deep infections, early revision, and poor function. The authors estimated that if bariatric surgery reduces the TKA risks in these patients by at least 16%, on average, the combination of bariatric surgery followed by TKA is more cost-effective than immediate TKA alone.
Because the ICER was much less than the WTP in this model, the authors conclude that “bariatric surgery prior to total knee arthroplasty may be a cost-effective option for improving outcomes in motivated patients with a BMI of ≥35 kg/m2 with end-stage knee osteoarthritis.” However, they are quick to add that “decision modeling cannot simulate reality for every clinical situation.” While this rigorously developed model may provide a decision-making framework for surgeons and policymakers, the authors say, “this approach may be impractical for an individual patient…desiring immediate symptomatic relief from knee osteoarthritis.”
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have concluded that fibrin, a protein involved in blood clotting and found abundantly around the site of new bone fractures, impedes rather than supports fracture healing.
Their recent study in The Journal of Clinical Investigation looked at mice that had experimentally induced deficits in either fibrin production or fibrin clearance. Researchers found normal fracture repair in mice without fibrin and impaired vascularization and fracture healing in mice with inhibited fibrin clearance. They also saw increased heterotopic ossification in the mice unable to remove fibrin.
In a Vanderbilt press release, study coauthor Jonathan Schoenecker, MD, commented that “any condition associated with vascular disease and thrombosis will impair fracture healing.” These findings, he suggested, may explain why obesity, diabetes, smoking, and old age—all of which are associated with impaired fibrin clearance—are also associated with impaired fracture healing. Dr. Schoenecker went on to speculate that anti-clotting drugs commonly used to treat cardiovascular conditions may find new applications in enhancing fracture repair.
The relationships between body weight and joint replacement are debated often in the orthopaedic community. Some surgeons are so concerned about perioperative complications related to obesity that they recommend delaying arthroplasty in obese patients until weight loss is achieved.
But what are the likelihood and implications of weight changes after joint replacement? For those answers, in the June 3, 2015 edition of JBJS, Ast et al. tracked differences in body mass index (BMI) among nearly 7,000 patients for two years after total hip arthroplasty (THA) or total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Establishing a 5% BMI change as “clinically meaningful,” the researchers found that:
- Most patients (73% of those undergoing THA and 69% of those undergoing TKA) experienced no weight change.
- Female patients, patients with a higher preoperative BMI, and those undergoing TKA were most likely to lose weight after surgery.
- Weight loss was associated with improved clinical outcomes after THA, but not after TKA. However, weight gain in general was associated with inferior clinical outcomes.
- Those with better preoperative functional status were less likely to gain weight after THA or TKA.
Countering conventional wisdom that weight loss after total joint arthroplasty is unlikely, Ast. Et al. emphasize that “obese patients who undergo total joint arthroplasty are more likely than non-obese patients to lose weight after surgery.”