Tag Archives: knee replacement

Should There Be Strict BMI Cutoffs for TKA and THA?

happy senior couple hiking on the mountainDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more.

Recently we posted a blog about candidacy for and outcomes of Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) and Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA) in morbidly obese patients who underwent pre-operative weight loss. Operating on obese patients for TKA and THA continues to be a hot button topic of risk versus reward in surgical outcomes.

Two well-respected orthopedic authorities, recently faced off to have a deeper conversation about whether or not orthopedic surgeons should have strict BMI cutoffs for performing primary TKA or THA. Benjamin F. Ricciardi, MD engaged Thomas K. Fehring, MD, from OrthoCarolina and Nicholas Giori, MD and PhD, a Stanford University professor, to face off. Highlights are summarized below.

Q: To what degree does the evidence support a strict BMI cutoff to determine eligibility for primary TKA and THA?

Dr. Fehring noted many Americans (35%) are obese and the association between patients with a BMI above 40 and surgical complications/infection is irrefutable. He recommends looking at big data such as Medicare or Veterans Affairs, meta-analysis, and position statements by specialty medical societies. All findings to date underscore the need to have a strict cutoff, but Dr. Fehring noted it’s important to develop weight loss strategies for patients prior to arthroplasty. 

Dr. Giori agreed that obesity is undeniably related to complications, but BMI is a weak risk factor compared to others that are commonly accepted (such as heart and metabolic disorders).

Q: Given the expansion of strict BMI cutoffs at the administrative level, how should safety (non-maleficence) be balanced against access to care?

Dr. Giori said that while BMI cutoffs are well-intended, the ones currently used have the effect of arbitrarily rationing care without medical justification. Also, he feels it disproportionately affects minorities, women and patients in low socio-economic classes. In his opinion, the decision should be based on joint decision making between the doctor and the patient. Risk adjustments in payment models (for doctors’ compensation) would help in the future.

Dr. Fehring agreed with many of the points, but at a certain point the risk outweighs the benefit, and attempting to operate on all patients regardless of BMI becomes dangerous. Keeping his “do no harm” obligation in mind, Dr. Fehring stated a BMI cutoff of 40 as a reasonable goal for patient safety.

Q: If a patient with morbid obesity is to undergo arthroplasty, what steps should be taken before surgery to make hip or knee arthroplasty safer?

Dr. Fehring recommended the patient be in the best possible health they can be prior to elective surgery to avoid complications. An optimization program, factoring in body weight, blood glucose control, serum albumin, and smoking status are part of his clinic’s protocol; patients get tools to meet and stick to set goals before getting surgery. It’s not just about treating the knee or hip; it’s about treating the whole patient as well, he said.

Dr. Giori recognized that optimization programs can help and his clinic also offers one, but the best that can be done regarding obesity is encouragement and education, and referring the patient to a structured weight-reduction program. On the flipside, the patient should do his or her best to lose weight to get below a given BMI threshold. From there, doctor and patient can create a shared decision-making plan that may or may not involve surgery.

If you’d like to discuss weight concerns prior to your total knee or hip replacement surgery, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Can Weight Loss Before Total Knee Arthroplasty Help?

Senior man having medical exam.When obese patients undergo total knee arthroplasty (TKA), many surgeons require or request preoperative weight loss. A group of researchers sought to determine the amount of weight loss needed in this patient population, to improve TKA operative time, length of stay, discharge to a rehab facility, and functional improvement after surgery. This is the first known study to look exclusively at obese patients to understand how preoperative weight loss might improve knee surgical outcomes after TKA.

Those considered morbidly obese have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. This study looked at 203 patients with a BMI of 40 or more. They were evaluated 90 days before their TKA, and again immediately preceding TKA, to assess weight loss. Of those who lost weight preoperatively, 41% had lost five or more pounds, 29% lost 10 or more pounds, and 14% lost 20 or more pounds.

Losing 10 or less pounds before surgery made no difference in operative time, length of stay, the need for discharge to a rehab facility, or post-operative functional improvement. However, the preoperative loss of 20 pounds or more showed benefits: It lowered the odds of discharge to a rehab facility, and was associated with a shortened length of stay. There were, however, no significant differences in surgery times or functional improvements for those who lost 20-plus pounds.

A longer stay in the hospital or discharge to a rehab facility is a driver of higher costs in primary total knee arthroplasty. Preoperative weight loss may reduce overall costs. The need for Discharge to a rehab facility is also correlated with an increased rate of post-operative infection. In the future, this study could help surgeons target a specific level of weight loss prior to TKA, for their patients to improve knee surgical outcomes.

If you’d like to discuss obesity or weight concerns prior to your total knee arthroplasty, or just want to learn more about the knee replacement procedure, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total and partial knee arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more.

Less Pain, Less Opioid Use After Total Knee Arthroplasty

Senior man on his mountain bike outdoorsDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is a knee expert specializing in new knee surgery procedures, total knee replacementsports medicine, and more.

Managing postsurgical pain after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is critical to successful surgical outcomes including patient recovery, rehabilitation and overall satisfaction. Local infiltration analgesia (LIA) with anesthetic agents is shown to improve pain and reduce morphine consumption. It also shortens the length of hospital stays compared with using peripheral nerve blocks, which can hinder mobility. A randomized control PILLAR study conducted by Michael A. Mont, M.D., Walter B. Beaver, M.D., Stanley H. Dysart, M.D., John W. Barrington, M.D., and Daniel J. Gaizo, M.D. took a closer look at the efficacy of LIA with Liposomal Bupivacaine (LB) in improving patient pain scores and reducing opioid use after TKA.

Here, the study team compared the effects of LIA with or without LB on pain scores, opioid consumption including opioid-free patients, time to first opioid rescue, and safety after primary unilateral total knee arthroplasty.

The study involved 140 TKA patients randomized to LIA with LB to 266mg/20mL (admixed with bupivacaine HCI %0.5, 20mL) or LIA with Bupivacaine HCI %0.5, 20mL. Standardized infiltration techniques and standardized multimodal pain protocol were used. Co-primary efficacy endpoints were the area under the curve (AUC) visual analog scale pain intensity scores 12-48 hours post-surgery, and total opioid consumption 0-48 hours post-surgery.

Findings were notable. AUC 12-48 post-surgical visual analog pain intensity scores were 180.8 with LB, and 209.3 without the use of LB. Total opioid consumption 0-48 hours post-surgery was 18.7mg with and 84.9 without LB. Significant differences favoring LB were observed for the percentage of opioid-free patients (p<.01) and time to first opioid rescue (P=.0230).  In the TKA setting, LIA with LB administered with optimal techniques significantly improved post-surgical pain, opioid use and time to first opioid rescue, with more opioid free patients and no unexpected safety concerns.

My past TKA patients will tell you the SwiftPath protocols I utilize are well aligned to this study. With a reduction in (or no) opioids after TKA, less post-operative pain and overall patient satisfaction, the use of LIA with LB is well-supported.

If you are a total knee arthroplasty candidate and want to learn more about treatments such as LIA with LB, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Should You Consider Partial Knee Replacement?

kneeA partial knee replacement, also known as unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA), can be a very appealing alternative to a total knee replacement for those suffering from severe knee pain. UKA is less-invasive, more cost-effective, promises the preservation of important bone, ligaments, and knee function, and provides an enhanced postoperative recovery. But is it the right procedure for you? The Medial Unicompartmental Arthroplasty of the Knee article by Jennings, J. M., Kleeman-Forsthuber, L. T., and Bolognesi, M. P. takes a closer look.

In years past, isolated anteromedial osteoarthritis or spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee were the only primary indications for partial knee replacement. Patients needed to be under age 60, less than 180 pounds, avoiding heavy labor, and experiencing minimal baseline pain, among other restrictions, which left only 6% of patients meeting all parameters.

Over the last two decades, however, studies have shown that the traditional indications for UKA can be expanded significantly with excellent results still obtained. Focused preoperative examination and imaging are needed to identify appropriate surgical candidates, but once selected, patients who undergo UKA experience faster recovery, improved kinematics, and better functional outcomes compared with total knee replacement, also known as total knee arthroplasty (TKA).

What’s more, the ten-year survival rates for partial knee replacement in cohort studies have shown to be greater than 90% with outcomes after conversion to total knee replacement being very similar to outcomes for revision TKA. While this information is encouraging, survivorship data should continue to be scrutinized and take both patient factors and functional outcomes into careful consideration.

As more long-term data on partial knee replacement becomes available, it will further guide clinicians in counseling patients on whether UKA is the right procedure for them. When performed at high-volume centers with advanced surgical techniques and on the correct patient populations, partial knee replacement has the potential to be a great alternative to total knee replacement.

If you want to learn more and discuss whether or not UKA is the right procedure for you, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total and partial knee arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more. 

Can Activity Trackers Assist with Recovery After Knee or Hip Arthroplasty?

activitytrackerCommercial wrist-worn activity monitors, like those by Fitbit, the Apple Watch or Garmin, have the potential to accurately assess activity levels and have been gaining popularity in the last few years. In a 2018 study published in The Journal of Arthroplasty, researchers set out to determine if feedback from activity monitors can improve activity levels after total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty.

To conduct this study, 163 people undergoing primary total knee arthroplasty or total hip arthroplasty were randomized into two groups. Subjects in the study received an activity tracker with the step display obscured two weeks before surgery and completed patient-reported outcome measures. On the day after surgery, participants were randomized into either the “feedback group” or the “no feedback group”. The feedback group was able to view their daily step count and was given a daily step goal. Those in the no feedback group wore the device with the display obscured for two weeks after surgery and did not receive a formal step goal, but were also able to see their daily step count after those two weeks were up.

Average steps taken by both groups were monitored at one, two, and six weeks, and again at six months. At six months after surgery, subjects repeated their patient-reported outcome measures.

It turns out that the feedback group subjects had a significantly higher average daily step count by 43% in week one, 33% in week two, 21% in week six, and 17% at six months, compared to the no feedback group. Additionally, the feedback group subjects were 1.7 times more likely to achieve an average of 7,000 steps per day than the no feedback group subjects at six weeks after surgery. Six weeks after surgery, the feedback group participants were back to their pre-op activity levels (100%) and at six months, they were actually stepping more (137%). While 83% of the no feedback group participants reported they were satisfied with the results of the surgery, 90% of the feedback groups reported the same.

With mobility and physical activity being imperative to healthy aging and very helpful for recovery after total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty, incorporating an activity monitor into your post-operative rehabilitation is a great idea for health and exercise motivation.

Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more. Contact Dr. Stickney to return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Home Exercise vs. Outpatient Physical Therapy Following Total Knee Arthroplasty

at-home-exerciseDr. Jeff Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, can help you determine whether outpatient physical therapy or home exercise is better suited for your recovery following total knee arthroplasty. He specializes in orthopedic surgeries and health care including total knee replacement, joint replacement, sports medicine, and more. Contact doctor Stickney’s office today to learn more.

Outpatient physical therapy (OPT) is the practice of visiting a healthcare facility such as a clinic or office to perform exercises to treat musculoskeletal problems. This strategic physical activity with the guidance of a physical therapist is a common means of both injury prevention and recovery from sports injuries, because it helps patients address joint pain and regain range of motion. While OPT has a long history as a fundamental part of proper treatment plans for recovery and maintenance following total knee arthroplasty (TKA), recent studies have questioned the need for OPT following total knee replacement surgery.

A new study, “Home Exercises vs. Outpatient Physical Therapy After Total Knee Arthroplasty: Value and Outcomes Following a Protocol Change”, explored the “health safety, efficacy, and home economics of routine home exercises following TKA compared with OPT immediately afterward”. It compared 251 patients who were prescribed OPT following TKA, and 269 who followed a home exercise program instead after their operations. Ultimately the study found that patients who practice home-directed exercise programs in place of formal OPT have seen comparable outcomes, and can even experience significantly reduced costs. They concluded that while some patients required OPT following their home exercise program, the majority did not.

As the study above highlights, the use of home-healthcare for knee postoperative knee rehabilitation following TKA is increasing. Many other publications have reported the same, claiming that supervised rehab such as OPT may not be necessary for optimal recovery following TKA. However, another recent study explored the association between physical therapy (PT) and functional improvements for patients in home settings. This study also explored factors related to PT utilization, meaning it identified the reasons patients did or did not use their home healthcare.

The study found that lower home-healthcare utilization was correlated with worse recovery. Participation in home-healthcare was generally lower for patients who had the help of physical therapists from rural agencies that came to their home. Medical complexity – such as depressive symptoms or dyspnea – factored into the patients’ levels of participation too.

Comparing the results of both studies, we can conclude that home exercise for joint replacement postoperative rehabilitation is effective, however it’s important that patients actually follow through on utilizing the home practice, performing the necessary amount for an optimal recovery. We can also see that those with medical complexities may need additional monitoring to verify that they perform the necessary amount of home PT sessions to achieve optimal knee surgical outcomes for a complete recovery.