Hip and knee replacement operations for osteoarthritis patients have become much safer in the last two decades
Research conducted by scientists at Utrecht University has studied mortality rates among patients undergoing total hip replacement (THR) and total knee replacement (TKR) procedures in Denmark between January 1989 and December 2007.
Published in the medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, the study assessed the outcomes of 71,812 patients who received hip replacements and 40,642 patients who underwent knee replacements, paying close attention to all-cause and disease-specific mortality rates.
It was found that short-term 60-day survival following elective hip or knee surgery has greatly improved since the early 1990s, at a much more pronounced rate than has been seen in the general population.
Far fewer patients are dying from myocardial infarction, venous thromboembolism, pneumonia and stroke as a consequence of surgery, while the duration of hospital stays following operations has been roughly halved.
This is occurring despite the fact that patients tend to have more pre-existing medical problems before undergoing surgery now than was the case in 1989.
The researchers concluded that the improvement in mortality rates can be attributed to “new surgical techniques, improvement of peri- and postoperative care, and performance of surgery in older patients having multiple comorbidities”.
It was added that the findings should be “reassuring” for patients undergoing elective THRs or TKRs.
A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK – which carries out research aiming to improve surgical techniques and the longevity and quality of prostheses – welcomed the findings: “Hip and knee replacement surgery can make an enormous difference to the quality of life of people with severe arthritis. As the numbers of operations performed increases, it’s reassuring to know that mortality rates have dropped.”