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Preoperative risk stratification minimizes 90-day complications in morbidly obese patients undergoing primary total knee arthroplasty

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It has been shown that the preoperative modification of risk factors associated with obesity may reduce complications after total knee arthroplasty (TKA). However, the optimal method of doing so remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a preoperative Risk Stratification Tool (RST) devised in our institution could reduce unexpected intensive care unit (ICU) transfers and 90-day emergency department (ED) visits, readmissions, and reoperations after TKA in obese patients.


We retrospectively reviewed 1,614 consecutive patients undergoing primary unilateral TKA. Their mean age was 65.1 years (17.9 to 87.7) and the mean BMI was 34.2 kg/m2 (SD 7.7). All patients underwent perioperative optimization and monitoring using the RST, which is a validated calculation tool that provides a recommendation for postoperative ICU care or increased nursing support. Patients were divided into three groups: non-obese (BMI < 30 kg/m2, n = 512); obese (BMI 30 kg/m2 to 39.9 kg/m2, n = 748); and morbidly obese (BMI > 40 kg/m2, n = 354). Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the outcomes among the groups adjusted for age, sex, smoking, and diabetes.


Obese patients had a significantly increased rate of discharge to a rehabilitation facility compared with non-obese patients (38.7% (426/1,102) vs 26.0% (133/512), respectively; p < 0.001). When stratified by BMI, discharge to a rehabilitation facility remained significantly higher compared with non-obese (26.0% (133)) in both obese (34.2% (256), odds ratio (OR) 1.6) and morbidly obese (48.0% (170), OR 3.1) patients (p < 0.001). However, there was no significant difference in unexpected ICU transfer (0.4% (two) non-obese vs 0.9% (seven) obese (OR 2.5) vs 1.7% (six) morbidly obese (OR 5.4); p = 0.054), visits to the ED (8.6% (44) vs 10.3% (77) (OR 1.3) vs 10.5% (37) (OR 1.2); p = 0.379), readmissions (4.5% (23) vs 4.0% (30) (OR 1.0) vs 5.1% (18) (OR 1.4); p = 0.322), or reoperations (2.5% (13) vs 3.3% (25) (OR 1.2) vs 3.1% (11) (OR 0.9); p = 0.939).


With the use of a preoperative RST, morbidly obese patients had similar rates of short-term postoperative adverse outcomes after primary TKA as non-obese patients. This supports the assertion that morbidly obese patients can safely undergo TKA with appropriate perioperative optimization and monitoring.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(6 Supple A):45–50.

Correspondence should be sent to Yehuda E. Kerbel. E-mail:

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