Decision tool predicts joint replacement risk

Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015

A research team led by a UK orthopaedic surgeon are developing a decision tool for people considering knee or hip replacement. 

Mark Wilkinson, a professor of orthopaedics at the University of Sheffield says the tool will help patients work out their individual risk for joint surgery.

“Patients are currently dependent on the advice of their doctors and surgeons on the risk and benefits of surgery, and the choice of prosthesis,” explained Professor Wilkinson.

But individual characteristics such as age, sex, underlying diagnosis, the choice of implant, and the surgical techniques used all affect the risk of death and other complications by 20-fold between patients, he says.

“We believe that by developing a personal decision aid will empower patients to be active partners in the decision-making process.”

Professor Wilkinson and his team will use data from 1.6 million operations from the National Joint Registry for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to develop and validate a model that can predict an individual’s risk of death and revision (replacement) surgery, taking into account factors such as age, weight, and the state of their health.

The tool will come in two formats; a patient-focused web-based tool that the patient will complete with their GP, and a second one which will enable the patient and surgeon to choose the most appropriate prosthesis. 

Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage found the use of decision aids in people with OA led to shorter wait times and fewer surgeries although the overall effect of their use was not statistically significant.

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