Background and purpose: Multimodal techniques can aid early rehabilitation and discharge of patients following primary joint replacement. We hypothesized that this not only reduces the economic burden of joint replacement by reducing length of stay, but also helps in reduction of early complications.
Patients and methods: We evaluated 4,500 consecutive unselected total hip replacements and total knee replacements regarding length of hospital stay, mortality, and perioperative complications. The first 3,000 underwent a traditional protocol while the other 1,500 underwent an enhanced recovery protocol involving behavioral, pharmacological, and procedural modifications.
Results: There was a reduction in 30-day death rate (0.5% to 0.1%, p = 0.02) and 90-day death rate (0.8% to 0.2%, p = 0.01). The median length of stay decreased from 6 days to 3 days (p < 0.001), resulting in a saving of 5,418 bed days. Requirement for blood transfusion was reduced (23% to 9.8%, p < 0.001). There was a trend of a reduced rate of 30-day myocardial infarction (0.8% to 0.5%. p = 0 .2) and stroke (0.5% to 0.2%, p = 0.2). The 60-day deep vein thrombosis figures (0.8% to 0.6%, p = 0.5) and pulmonary embolism figures (1.2% to 1.1%, p = 0.9) were similar. Re-admission rate remained unchanged during the period of the study (4.7% to 4.8%, p = 0.8).
Interpretation: This large observational study of unselected consecutive hip and knee arthroplasty patients shows a substantial reduction in death rate, reduced length of stay, and reduced transfusion requirements after the introduction of a multimodal enhanced recovery protocol.