Determining the necessity for routine pathologic examinations in uncomplicated total hip and total knee arthroplasties

J Arthroplasty. 2000 Jan;15(1):69-71. doi: 10.1016/s0883-5403(00)91233-6.


Total hip and total knee arthroplasties (n = 951) were retrospectively reviewed to determine the cost-effectiveness of routine pathologic examination of surgical specimens in primary total hip and total knee replacements. Discrepancies between the postoperative diagnosis and the final pathologic diagnoses were recorded. Of the 951 cases reviewed, 27 (2.8%) noted conflicting postoperative and pathologic diagnosis. In all cases, the discrepancy was between a postoperative diagnosis of osteoarthritis and pathologic diagnosis of avascular necrosis. No new cases of neoplasia or inflammatory arthropathy were noted based on the pathologic interpretation. Sixteen of these discrepancies (5.1%) and were noted in total hip arthroplasties, and 11 (1.7%) were noted in total knee arthroplasties. In no case was postoperative medical or surgical treatment altered. Based on this review, strong consideration should be given to the elimination of routine pathologic evaluation of surgical specimens during primary joint arthroplasty, leaving this pathologic evaluation optional, at the discretion of the orthopaedic surgeon, rather than mandatory.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hip Joint / pathology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies