Standardized mortality ratios and fatal pulmonary embolism rates following total knee replacement: a cohort of 936 consecutive cases

J Knee Surg. Fall 2002;15(4):219-22; discussion 222.


Mortality and fatal pulmonary embolism rates in 936 consecutive primary total knee replacements (TKR) were determined during a 3-month postoperative period. Postmortem examinations verified the cause of death in all but 3 patients, and follow-up was performed on all but 1 patient. All patients had elastic stockings as mechanical prophylaxis. No deaths occurred from pulmonary embolism confirmed by postmortem examinations. At worst, the fatal pulmonary embolism rate was 0.43% (4/936; confidence interval [CI]=0.14%-1.17%). The all-cause mortality rate was 0.64% (6/936; CI=0.26%-1.46%). The patient mortality was compared with the population mortality of England and Wales using standardized mortality ratios. The standardized mortality ratios for both sexes combined was 0.74 (CI=0.29-1.52). A lower mortality was observed in women (0.67) than in men (0.84) during the first 3 postoperative months compared to the general population. Fatal pulmonary embolism after TKR with the routine use of graded elastic stockings and early mobilization is rare. In this series, the death rate in patients undergoing TKR appears to be lower than that in the general population.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / mortality*
  • Retrospective Studies