Timing of total joint replacement affects clinical outcomes among patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee

Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Dec;46(12):3327-30. doi: 10.1002/art.10631.


Objective: To determine the predictors of outcome in patients with osteoarthritis 2 years after receiving total hip or knee replacement.

Methods: A prospective cohort study of 222 osteoarthritis patients undergoing total hip or knee replacement in Boston and Montreal was done. Their postoperative outcomes at 6 months were previously reported. This followup reports on the outcomes after 2 years among the 165 patients (74%) who remained. The subjects were divided into 2 groups according to the median value of their preoperative Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) function score. The Short Form 36-item physical function subscale and the WOMAC pain and function subscale scores were collected at baseline and at 3, 6, and 24 months postoperatively. Clinical outcomes were analyzed at 2 years, using descriptive and multiple regression analyses.

Results: Improvements in pain and function at 2 years were similar to those observed at 6 months. Those subjects with the worst function and pain at the time of surgery (baseline) had comparatively worse function 2 years after surgery.

Conclusion: In this comparison, the poor outcomes observed at 6 months following total joint replacement in patients with worse baseline functional status persisted after 2 years. Although there are no validated indications for when a patient should optimally have total joint replacement, these data suggest that timing of surgery may be more important than previously realized and, specifically, that performing surgery earlier in the course of functional decline may be associated with better outcome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis / surgery*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome