Over the last 2 decades, research into how various “preexisting conditions” affect the outcomes of orthopaedic interventions has increasingly focused on the impact of mental health (a patient’s “state of mind” and coping abilities) and psychological diagnoses such as depression. The impact of mental health, depression, and personality characteristics on patient-reported outcomes following significant skeletal trauma has been well documented in the trauma literature. In addition, previous studies in knee arthroplasty have identified depression as a major factor in suboptimal patient outcomes.
In the October 17, 2018 issue of The Journal, Halawi et al. teased out the impact of depression and mental health—independently and in combination—on patient-reported outcomes following primary total joint arthroplasty (TJA) in 469 patients at a minimum follow-up of one year.
The authors used the validated SF-12 MCS instrument to assess patient baseline mental health at the time of surgery. They also used the widely accepted WOMAC score to assess joint-specific pain, stiffness, and physical function before and after surgery. Using these tools, the authors showed that, while depression alone may diminish some patient-reported gains obtained from arthroplasty, it does not seem to affect a patient’s overall outcome as much as poor mental health prior to surgery. In this study, patients with depression but good mental health achieved patient-reported outcomes comparable to those among normal controls. Still, patients without depression and in good mental health were found to have the most robust improvements after undergoing TJA.
Orthopaedic surgeons need to better understand the interplay between these complex psychological states and patient outcomes. These authors conclude that the effect of depression on patient-reported outcomes is “less pessimistic than previously thought,” but we welcome further studies examining the link between “the mind” and orthopaedic outcomes. Finally, we should be ready to refer patients to our mental health colleagues when we detect a potential underlying nonphysical condition that might adversely affect the magnitude of benefit from the treatments we offer.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
Many orthopaedists wonder whether—or under what circumstances—arthroscopy confers any clinical benefit in treating hip osteoarthritis. A prospective matched-pair analysis by Chandrasekaran et al. in the June 15, 2016 Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery suggests that arthroscopy does not help prevent the eventual conversion to total hip arthroplasty (THA) in hips with Tönnis grade-2 arthritis (moderate narrowing of the joint space with moderate loss of femoral-head sphericity).
The authors compared two-year outcomes from 37 patients with Tönnis grade-2 hip osteoarthritis who had a hip arthroscopy performed with outcomes from matched cohorts of 37 Tönnis grade-0 and 37 grade-1 hips on which arthroscopy was also performed. In all cases, arthroscopy sought to address symptomatic intra-articular hip disorders refractory to nonoperative management. The cohorts were matched to minimize the confounding effects of age, sex, and BMI on the outcomes.
There were no significant differences among the groups with respect to four patient-reported outcome measures (including the modified Harris hip score), VAS pain scores, and patient satisfaction levels. However, Tönnis grade-2 hips had a significantly higher conversion rate to THA compared to the other two matched cohorts. In absolute terms, a subsequent THA was required for 3 hips in the Tönnis grade-0 group, 5 in the Tönnis grade-1 group, and 15 in the Tönnis grade-2 group.
From this finding, the authors conclude that “hip arthroscopy has a limited role as a joint preservation procedure in select patients with Tönnis grade-2 osteoarthritis…Hip arthroscopy can effectively restore the labral seal and address impingement, but patients may continue to experience symptoms associated with the osteoarthritis.”