Both younger and elderly patients in pain are willing to undergo knee replacement despite the COVID-19 pandemic: a study on surgical waiting lists

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2022 Aug;30(8):2723-2730. doi: 10.1007/s00167-021-06611-x. Epub 2021 May 20.


Purpose: To identify factors influencing patient's availability to re-schedule primary total knee replacement (TKR) or revision (RKR) surgery after the lockdown (March-May 2020) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: A prospective cohort study through a telephone survey was performed in 156 patients (143 for primary and 13 for revision) included in the TKR and RKR surgical waiting list before March 2020. Contact of each patient with COVID-19, stress and anxiety, perceived pain, and function were obtained in the interviews, and also the preference of each patient to have re-scheduled surgery (early or late). Finally, we registered their response (acceptance or refusal) when surgery was effectively re-scheduled.

Results: 88 out of 156 patients waiting for knee replacement (76/143 of those waiting for TKR, 12/13 of those waiting for RKR) declared themselves ready for surgery in less than 1 month. When re-scheduled, 115 patients underwent surgery and 41 refused. Significantly different preferences were found for age (more prone to surgery if under 65), revision surgery (more readily available), pain (7.9 ± 1.7/10 in NRS in those undergoing surgery, 5.6 ± 2.3/10 in those refusing, p = 0.000), or COVID-19 diagnosis, but not other close contact with COVID-19, comorbidities, stress, or anxiety. A logistic regression model confirmed that revision surgery (OR 9.33), perceived severe pain (OR 5.21), and age under 65 years (OR 5.82) were significantly associated with patient preference. The probability of patients over 65 to prefer early surgery reached 60% only with pain at or above 9/10.

Conclusions: Surgical timing preferences for knee replacement vary between patients older than 65 years (immediate surgery only when pain is intense) and younger patients (immediate surgery no matter the amount of pain). Even if COVID-19 severely stroke our population, the need for knee replacement stood in the young population and even in the aged population at risk for COVID when pain was important.

Keywords: COVID-19; Knee replacement; Patient availability; Surgery preferences; Waiting list.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / surgery
  • Pain / surgery
  • Pandemics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Waiting Lists