Orthopedic surgery is generally safe for older people

The number of people aged 80 and over who are choosing to have elective orthopaedic surgery has increased considerably over recent years. The results of a new study carried out in the USA suggest that orthopaedic procedures are generally safe for older people with mortality rates decreasing for total hip (THR) and total knee (TKR) replacement and spinal fusion surgeries, and complication rates decreasing for total knee replacement and spinal fusion in patients with few or no other conditions or diseases.

The study was led by Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Hiroyuki Yoshihara. Commenting on the results of the study he said: "Based on the results of this study, I think very elderly patients, particularly those with few or no comorbidities, should strongly consider the benefits of these procedures.”

In the study, the team of researchers analysed data for patients age 80 and older, and those aged 65 to 79, from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS). Patient sex, race, comorbidities, complications, mortality, duration of hospital stay, whether or not patients were discharged to their home or to a rehabilitation facility, and total hospital charges were retrieved and analysed.

Of the patients in the NIS database who were at least 80 years of age, 417,460 underwent TKR; 233,277 THR; and 70,203, spinal fusion between 2000 and 2009. In the 65 to 79 patient range, 1,868,983 underwent TKR; 768,999, THR; and, 522,369, spinal fusion.

 Dr. Yoshihara added: “As life expectancy continues to increase, I hope that very elderly patients who have had inadequate results from exhaustive conservative treatment (for various orthopaedic conditions) undergo the procedures and have better life quality.”

The results of the study appear in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

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