Background and purpose: Joint Replacement Registries play a significant role in monitoring arthroplasty outcomes by publishing data on survivorship of individual prostheses or combinations of prostheses. The difference in outcomes can be device- or non-device-related, and these factors can be analyzed separately. Although registry data indicate that most prostheses have similar outcomes, some have a higher than anticipated rate of revision when compared to all other prostheses in their class. This report outlines how the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry (AOANJRR) has developed a method to report prostheses with a higher than expected rate of revision. These are referred to as "outlier" prostheses.
Material and methods: Since 2004, the AOANJRR has developed a standardized process for identifying outliers. This is based on a 3-stage process consisting of an automated algorithm, an extensive analysis of individual prostheses or combinations by registry staff, and finally a meeting involving a panel from the Australian Orthopaedic Association Arthroplasty Society. Outlier prostheses are listed in the Annual Report as (1) identified but no longer used in Australia, (2) those that have been re-identified and that are still used, and (3) those that are being identified for the first time.
Results: 78 prostheses or prosthesis combinations have been identified as being outliers using this approach (AOANJRR 2011 Annual Report). In addition, 5 conventional hip prostheses were initially identified, but after further analysis no longer met the defined criteria. 1 resurfacing hip prosthesis was initially identified, subsequently removed from the list, and then re-identified the following year when further data were available. All unicompartmental and primary total knee prostheses identified as having a higher than expected rate of revision have continued to be re-identified.
Interpretation: It is important that registries use a transparent and accountable process to identify an outlier prosthesis. This paper describes the development, implementation, assessment, and impact of the approach used by the Australian Registry.