Category Archives: Joint Replacement

Radio Frequency Ablation vs. Hyaluronic Acid

Radio frequency ablation compared with a single injection of hyaluronic acid for chronic knee pain. Reported in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery September 2020

There are many potential approaches to alleviating the pain associated with osteoarthritis. The most common approach is suppressing the inflammatory response to cartilage breakdown. This would include icing, oral anti-inflammatory medication, Injectable anti-inflammatory medication like steroids.

Activity modification, weight loss, and physical therapy can also mitigate some of the symptoms of arthritis.

Injection of platelet rich plasma which provides growth factors for cartilage regeneration has been shown to be effective in early arthritis theoretically improving or repairing the cartilage through the delivery of growth factors.

There are also injectable medications that rehydrate the remaining cartilage in an arthritic joint, and lubricate the joint, by incorporating into the articular cartilage. Examples of this would be Synvisc or Euflexxa. (  hyaluronic acid ).

Another approach is simply to try to suppress the pain and stay active despite the arthritis. Examples of this would be Tylenol, Narcotics, or nerve ablation. Nerve ablation is an attempt at decreasing the nerve stimulation Signal coming from the arthritic joint to the brain. Prior studies of radio frequency ablation have demonstrated 6 to 12 months of relieving knee arthritis pain.

The final option is joint replacement which is removing the worn out cartilage and bone spurs, thus eliminating the source of ongoing inflammation and pain in the knee or hip. Joint replacement is a resurfacing of the joint with metal and plastic creating a new weight bearing surface. This new metal cap over the end of the bones ( Joint replacement ) shields the underlying nerves in the bone from stimulation and therefore relieves the pain associated with arthritic wear. This is a permanent solution but a very difficult surgical recovery, Associated with it.

In this randomized perspective trial of 260 subjects. The patients were either given intra-articular injection with hyaluronic acid or underwent nerve ablation. They were comparable and randomly assigned to the treatment option. They were followed at one months three months and six months after the procedure. Consistently the group with radio frequency ablation did better in terms of pain and function. At six months follow up the group with radio frequency ablation still had 48% improvement while the hyaluronic acid group had 22% improvement. The results also demonstrated a much more significant improvement in pain and function in patients with early-stage arthritis versus in stage bone on bone arthritis.

In conclusion radio frequency ablation of the sensory nerves around the knee is a viable alternative with better functional outcome compared to hyaluronic acid injection.

 

Diabetes and the Heightened Risk of Periprosthetic Joint Infection

Diabetes woman ready for morning run along the coastDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in joint replacementsports medicine, and more.

Diabetes is prevalent not just in the U.S., it affects millions of people worldwide and is one of the leading causes of disability. Its direct effects on postoperative care can impact both the patient and an already strained healthcare system. In the world of orthopedic surgery specifically, little has been documented about a diabetic patient’s incidence of infection after undergoing total knee or total hip arthroplasty.

A recent investigation by researchers at the University of Utah looked at data of type-1 and type-2 diabetes mellitus patients and the incidence of periprosthetic joint infection. By looking at historical, statewide data of more than 75,000 patients undergoing knee or hip arthroplasty between 1996 and 2013, researchers were able to identify 1,668 patients with type-1 diabetes and another 18,186 patients with type-2 diabetes, providing a strong sample size. The researchers hypothesized that arthroplasty patients with type-1 diabetes were at greater risk for infection than those with type-2 diabetes.

While age and sex were found to be insignificant factors contributing to infection rates, the study did find that the frequency of periprosthetic joint infection in non-diabetic patients was 2.6% compared with 4.3% infection rates across all diabetic patients. Looking more specifically at the differences in infection rates between the two types of diabetes, patients with type-1 diabetes were at a 1.8 times greater rate of infection than patients with type-2 diabetes (7% compared to 4%, respectively).

Diabetes-related complications indicated a greater risk of periprosthetic joint infection; these include peripheral circulatory disorders, ketoacidosis, neurological manifestations, renal manifestations, or ophthalmic manifestations, hyperosmolarity (common in type-2 diabetes, where the body tries to rid itself of excess blood sugar via urination), and coma. The odds of infection increased with each added complication, and diabetes patients with more than four of these complications put them at nine times more risk. Weight also plays a role; overweight and obese type-2 diabetes patients, as well as underweight type-1 diabetes patients were also at greater risk for periprosthetic joint infection when compared with the general population.

Findings suggest it may be important to look at the length of time patients have had diabetes, factor in a patient’s diabetes type, and understand a patient’s number of diabetes-related complications prior to any joint replacement surgery. This information can help patients to make a more informed decision and help healthcare providers better manage risk.

If you have chronic health conditions and would like to learn more about how to avoid post-surgical complications related to TKA or THA, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Chronic Prescription Opioid Use Before and After Total Joint Arthroplasty: Overall Promising News

Knee injuriesDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more.

An April 2019 study in the Journal of Arthroplasty explored the chronic prescription opioid use of patients under the age of 65 before and after having total knee arthroplasty or total hip arthroplasty. Looking at three years of MarketScan data between 2009 and 2012, patient opioid use was measured three months before and 12 months after their respective surgeries. With a large sample of more than 125,000 patients, a multicenter scope, and inclusion of both TKA and THA patients, the study lays out a strong and promising snapshot.

The goal of total joint arthroplasty is to reduce or eliminate the painful symptoms of a degenerative joint disease. Due to the addictive property of opioid medications, some patients may develop a pattern of chronic use after surgery. Others can develop chronic opioid use in managing their pain prior to surgery. “Chronic” was defined in the analysis as having two or more opioid prescriptions filled within a six-week period. 

Of the 24,127 patients (under 65) who were chronic opioid users before surgery, 72% were no longer chronic users 12 months post- op. Of the 100,892 patients under 65 who were nonusers before their surgeries, 4% became chronic opioid users one year post-op.  Patients under age 56 who had TKA or THA were 25% more likely to become chronic opioid users compared to those aged 56-65; and procedurally speaking, those undergoing TKA were 60% more likely to become chronic users than those undergoing THA. The length of hospital stay exceeding three days showed 32% higher odds associated with becoming a chronic opioid user. Being male or female did not significantly factor into the odds of chronic opioid use.

Patients who had TKA and hospital stays more than 3 days were significant risk factors of persisting chronic opioid use after surgery; age played a mixed use in predicting the change of opioid use.

With the authors’ definition of chronic opioid use in mind, the overall chronic opioid use decreased from 19% to 9% after total knee or total hip arthroplasty. Patients were more likely to cease chronic use after TJA (72%) than to become chronic users (4%).

My joint replacement patients seek options that reduce pain, reduce the need for narcotics and speed recovery more than ever. It’s common for patients with even the most debilitating arthritis to fear joint replacement, mostly dreading the pain of the surgery, complications around opioid use and fear or being out of commission after surgery. With the appropriate treatments, we can address your degenerative joint conditions while avoiding the pitfalls of chronic opioid use and on the path to an optimal recovery. If you have any questions about pain management before, during or after TKA or THA, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Should There Be Strict BMI Cutoffs for TKA and THA?

happy senior couple hiking on the mountainDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more.

Recently we posted a blog about candidacy for and outcomes of Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) and Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA) in morbidly obese patients who underwent pre-operative weight loss. Operating on obese patients for TKA and THA continues to be a hot button topic of risk versus reward in surgical outcomes.

Two well-respected orthopedic authorities, recently faced off to have a deeper conversation about whether or not orthopedic surgeons should have strict BMI cutoffs for performing primary TKA or THA. Benjamin F. Ricciardi, MD engaged Thomas K. Fehring, MD, from OrthoCarolina and Nicholas Giori, MD and PhD, a Stanford University professor, to face off. Highlights are summarized below.

Q: To what degree does the evidence support a strict BMI cutoff to determine eligibility for primary TKA and THA?

Dr. Fehring noted many Americans (35%) are obese and the association between patients with a BMI above 40 and surgical complications/infection is irrefutable. He recommends looking at big data such as Medicare or Veterans Affairs, meta-analysis, and position statements by specialty medical societies. All findings to date underscore the need to have a strict cutoff, but Dr. Fehring noted it’s important to develop weight loss strategies for patients prior to arthroplasty. 

Dr. Giori agreed that obesity is undeniably related to complications, but BMI is a weak risk factor compared to others that are commonly accepted (such as heart and metabolic disorders).

Q: Given the expansion of strict BMI cutoffs at the administrative level, how should safety (non-maleficence) be balanced against access to care?

Dr. Giori said that while BMI cutoffs are well-intended, the ones currently used have the effect of arbitrarily rationing care without medical justification. Also, he feels it disproportionately affects minorities, women and patients in low socio-economic classes. In his opinion, the decision should be based on joint decision making between the doctor and the patient. Risk adjustments in payment models (for doctors’ compensation) would help in the future.

Dr. Fehring agreed with many of the points, but at a certain point the risk outweighs the benefit, and attempting to operate on all patients regardless of BMI becomes dangerous. Keeping his “do no harm” obligation in mind, Dr. Fehring stated a BMI cutoff of 40 as a reasonable goal for patient safety.

Q: If a patient with morbid obesity is to undergo arthroplasty, what steps should be taken before surgery to make hip or knee arthroplasty safer?

Dr. Fehring recommended the patient be in the best possible health they can be prior to elective surgery to avoid complications. An optimization program, factoring in body weight, blood glucose control, serum albumin, and smoking status are part of his clinic’s protocol; patients get tools to meet and stick to set goals before getting surgery. It’s not just about treating the knee or hip; it’s about treating the whole patient as well, he said.

Dr. Giori recognized that optimization programs can help and his clinic also offers one, but the best that can be done regarding obesity is encouragement and education, and referring the patient to a structured weight-reduction program. On the flipside, the patient should do his or her best to lose weight to get below a given BMI threshold. From there, doctor and patient can create a shared decision-making plan that may or may not involve surgery.

If you’d like to discuss weight concerns prior to your total knee or hip replacement surgery, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

After One Joint Wears Out, Will More Go?

Hip, back and spinal problems in young ages.Here’s a question I’m often asked by patients: “If one of my joints has worn out, how likely are the others to go?” A recent publication from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) lends some insights into this question. The study, found in the Aug. 12, 2019 issue of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, is the first of its kind. The likelihood of undergoing a 2nd Arthroplasty (Joint replacement) after hip or knee replacement had not previously been evaluated.

The authors prospectively asked two questions: “What is the likelihood of second Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) or Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA) after primary TKA or THA?” and “What risk factors are associated with undergoing addition joint replacement. The study identified 332 patients who underwent primary TKA and another 132 who underwent THA across five OAI-participating centers in the U.S., who hadn’t previously had a THA or TKA. The patients were followed for 8 years after their primary joint replacement.

  • The incidence of contralateral (opposite Knee) TKA after primary TKA was 40%
  • The incidence of THA after any TKA was 13%
  • The incidence of contralateral (opposite) THA after primary THA was 8%
  • The incidence of any TKA after primary THA was 32%

As for the second question in the study: Risk factors for undergoing contralateral TKA were younger age and a loss of medial joint space with a varus angulation, or bow leg deformity.

The conclusion is clear: Patients who underwent TKA or THA for osteoarthritis had a relatively high rate of subsequent joint arthroplasty. There’s no question that osteoarthritis is common and debilitating, and often it affects more than one large, weight-bearing joint.

If you need a joint replacement or want to learn more about the procedure, hip or knee replacement surgical outcomes, recovery and quality-of-life prognosis, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle. Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is a knee and hip expert specializing in joint replacement surgery.

Less Pain, Less Opioid Use After Total Knee Arthroplasty

Senior man on his mountain bike outdoorsDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is a knee expert specializing in new knee surgery procedures, total knee replacementsports medicine, and more.

Managing postsurgical pain after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is critical to successful surgical outcomes including patient recovery, rehabilitation and overall satisfaction. Local infiltration analgesia (LIA) with anesthetic agents is shown to improve pain and reduce morphine consumption. It also shortens the length of hospital stays compared with using peripheral nerve blocks, which can hinder mobility. A randomized control PILLAR study conducted by Michael A. Mont, M.D., Walter B. Beaver, M.D., Stanley H. Dysart, M.D., John W. Barrington, M.D., and Daniel J. Gaizo, M.D. took a closer look at the efficacy of LIA with Liposomal Bupivacaine (LB) in improving patient pain scores and reducing opioid use after TKA.

Here, the study team compared the effects of LIA with or without LB on pain scores, opioid consumption including opioid-free patients, time to first opioid rescue, and safety after primary unilateral total knee arthroplasty.

The study involved 140 TKA patients randomized to LIA with LB to 266mg/20mL (admixed with bupivacaine HCI %0.5, 20mL) or LIA with Bupivacaine HCI %0.5, 20mL. Standardized infiltration techniques and standardized multimodal pain protocol were used. Co-primary efficacy endpoints were the area under the curve (AUC) visual analog scale pain intensity scores 12-48 hours post-surgery, and total opioid consumption 0-48 hours post-surgery.

Findings were notable. AUC 12-48 post-surgical visual analog pain intensity scores were 180.8 with LB, and 209.3 without the use of LB. Total opioid consumption 0-48 hours post-surgery was 18.7mg with and 84.9 without LB. Significant differences favoring LB were observed for the percentage of opioid-free patients (p<.01) and time to first opioid rescue (P=.0230).  In the TKA setting, LIA with LB administered with optimal techniques significantly improved post-surgical pain, opioid use and time to first opioid rescue, with more opioid free patients and no unexpected safety concerns.

My past TKA patients will tell you the SwiftPath protocols I utilize are well aligned to this study. With a reduction in (or no) opioids after TKA, less post-operative pain and overall patient satisfaction, the use of LIA with LB is well-supported.

If you are a total knee arthroplasty candidate and want to learn more about treatments such as LIA with LB, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.