Dr. Browne and Associates presented an award-winning paper at the Knee Society Meeting in New Orleans, March 15, 2014. The paper looked at the effect of morbid obesity on complications after knee replacement. They used a nationwide in-patient sample database to identify patients undergoing primary knee replacement from October 2005 to December 2008.
Morbid obesity was defined as a Body Mass Index of more than 40. Of the 1,777,068 primary total knees, 98,410 or 5.5% of patients were categorized as morbidly obese. These individuals had a statistically higher risk of post-operative, in-hospital wound complications, including infection, and a higher risk of anemia and renal complications.
The paper also noted that morbidly obese patients were at a significantly higher risk of in-hospital death following total knee replacement, compared to non-obese patients. Dr. Browne and Associates concluded that morbid obesity by itself appears to be associated with a higher risk for complications following total knee replacement. They also noted that co-morbidities that are often associated with obesity, including diabetes and hypertension, appear to be responsible for some of the increased risks of complications following surgery. They also pointed out that morbid obesity appears to be associated with higher costs, longer lengths of stay, and a lower rate of discharge after knee replacement surgery.