Obesity is a condition linked to many health problems and most of them can be at least alleviated by weight loss. In the case of joints, obesity results in extra stress, accelerating their wear and increasing the risk of damage. However, it appears that weight has no bearing on the outcome of total hip arthroplasty (THA) through minimally invasive surgical techniques, at least in the early post-operative stage.
This has been established by a team of German researchers led by Thomas Dienstknecht from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Regensburg University Medical Center. The findings of the study have been published in the current issue of International Orthopaedics.
As the study abstract points out, minimally invasive hip replacement surgery is known to deliver significant benefits. However, the use of such techniques in the case of obese patients has been surrounded by controversy. The German researchers set about to compare the results for normal weight and obese patients, choosing 134 subjects for their randomised study. They were divided into two groups, with a transgluteal approach used for THA in one group and a minimally invasive approach adopted for the other group. Obese patients in both groups were defined as those having a body mass index (BMI) in excess of 30.
The patients were assessed three months after their surgery and all showed comparable results regarding surgery duration, blood loss, C-reactive protein levels, radiographic measurements and complication rates. There were also similar results for time points of mobilisation, hospital stay duration and functional outcome measurements irrespective of weight. The researchers concluded that the benefits of minimally invasive THA were similar for obese and non-obese patients but added that further study was needed to determine long-term survivorship rates.