Background: Death within 90 days after total hip replacement is rare but might be avoidable dependent on patient and treatment factors. We assessed whether a secular decrease in death caused by hip replacement has occurred in England and Wales and whether modifiable perioperative factors exist that could reduce deaths.
Methods: We took data about hip replacements done in England and Wales between April, 2003, and December, 2011, from the National Joint Registry for England and Wales. Patient identifiers were used to link these data to the national mortality database and the Hospital Episode Statistics database to obtain details of death, sociodemographics, and comorbidity. We assessed mortality within 90 days of operation by Kaplan-Meier analysis and assessed the role of patient and treatment factors by Cox proportional hazards model.
Findings: 409,096 primary hip replacements were done to treat osteoarthritis. 1743 patients died within 90 days of surgery during 8 years, with a substantial secular decrease in mortality, from 0·56% in 2003 to 0·29% in 2011, even after adjustment for age, sex, and comorbidity. Several modifiable clinical factors were associated with decreased mortality according to an adjusted model: posterior surgical approach (hazard ratio [HR] 0·82, 95% CI 0·73-0·92; p=0·001), mechanical thromboprophylaxis (0·85, 0·74-0·99; p=0·036), chemical thromboprophylaxis with heparin with or without aspirin (0·79, 0·66-0·93; p=0·005), and spinal versus general anaesthetic (0·85, 0·74-0·97; p=0·019). Type of prosthesis was unrelated to mortality. Being overweight was associated with lower mortality (0·76, 0·62-0·92; p=0·006).
Interpretation: Postoperative mortality after hip joint replacement has fallen substantially. Widespread adoption of four simple clinical management strategies (posterior surgical approach, mechanical and chemical prophylaxis, and spinal anaesthesia) could, if causally related, reduce mortality further.
Funding: National Joint Registry for England and Wales.
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