Over the last two decades, a number of factors have combined to make total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) much safer and effective solutions for people suffering from moderate to severe osteoarthritis (OA). This is the conclusion reached by a team of Dutch and Danish researchers, who attributed the marked improvement to new surgical techniques, better care before and after operation and surgery performance in older patients with multiple comorbidities.
The findings of the study, which have been published in the Arthritis & Rheumatology journal, are based on an analysis of mortality rates among patients undergoing THA and TKA in Danish hospitals between the start of 1989 and the end of 2007. Among the participants, 71,812 people were THA patients and 40,642 had TKA surgery. The researchers looked in detail at all-cause and disease-specific mortality.
The analysis showed great improvement in 60-day survival rates after THA and TKA procedures in the period under examination. In fact, the improvement was far more pronounced compared to mortality rates in the general population. The researchers found a sharp reduction in the number of OA patients dying from myocardial infarction, venous thromboembolism, pneumonia and stroke after their surgery. Moreover, the amount of time spent in hospital after THA or TKA has been cut by about half. These improvements have occurred regardless of the fact that patients operated on after 1989 are more likely to have pre-existing medical problems than patients in previous decades. Overall, the study findings can serve as reassurance for people choosing to undergo THA and TKA, the researchers concluded in their report.