Does bariatric surgery prior to lower limb joint replacement reduce complications?

Surgeon. 2011 Feb;9(1):18-21. doi: 10.1016/j.surge.2010.08.004. Epub 2010 Sep 27.


Obesity is an increasing health concern in developed world. Bariatric surgery is considered in super-obese patients. Many of these patients will also require lower limb arthroplasty. This study was performed to investigate the complications of hip and knee replacement in patients who had bariatric surgery either before or after their joint replacement. Hospital episode statistics data for English NHS patients undergoing lower limb arthroplasty and bariatric surgery between 2005 and 2009 were analysed. The joint replacement-specific and general medical complications were compared between those undergoing joint replacement prior to bariatric surgery and vice versa, and also with the general English arthroplasty patient. One hundred and forty-three patients underwent bariatric surgery and joint replacement. Bariatric surgery was performed first in 53 and arthroplasty first in 90 patients. The mean age of obese patients was 9 years younger than the general arthroplasty population. Mean in-hospital stay was similar but general medical complications in obese patients appear to be less, possibly because of the lower age at the time of the procedure. Hip dislocation rate at 18 months was higher. Within the two obese groups wound infection rate was 3.5 times lower and readmission to hospital at 30 days appeared to be 7-times lower in patients who had bariatric surgery prior to joint replacement (p = 0.06). In this patient group, the risk of complications following joint replacement appears to be lower if bariatric surgery is performed first.

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / adverse effects*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / adverse effects*
  • Bariatric Surgery*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*