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UK Researchers Find Steep Drop In Post-Operative Death Rates Among Hip Replacement Patients

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Researchers from Bristol, Oxford, East Anglia and Exeter have made some amazing discoveries with regard to osteoarthritis (OA) patients undergoing hip replacement surgery. Key among them is the massive decline in death rates in the first three months after the operation, which plummeted from 0.6% to 0.3% between 2003 and 2011.

For the purposes of their study, the researchers analysed data on 409,096 patients having surgery during that period. University of Bristol Professor Ashley Blom led the research team for the retrospective analysis conducted on behalf of the National Joint Registry for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (NJR). The findings have been published in The Lancet.

According to the report, the dramatic decline in mortality rates after hip replacement surgery is associated with four simple treatment options: the application of spinal anaesthetic, the adoption of a posterior surgical approach, the use of chemical thromboprophylaxis with heparin and the use of mechanical thromboprophylaxis.

The researchers were surprised to find that the risk of death was lower among overweight patients. This goes against existing preconceptions but other recent studies have come to the same conclusion, Blom said.

But while weight may not be a contributing factor to mortality risk, there are certain medical conditions that significantly affect the odds. The risk of death within 90 days of surgery is ten times as high for OA patients with severe liver disease, while a previous heart attack amplifies the risk threefold. For patients suffering from diabetes or kidney disease the risk doubles, according to the report.