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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Northwestern: Study Indicates Knee Replacement Timing is All Wrong for Most

The timing of knee replacement surgery is critical to optimize its benefit. But 90 percent of patients with knee osteoarthritis who would potentially benefit from knee replacement are waiting too long to have it and getting less benefit. In addition, about 25 percent of patients who don’t need it are having it prematurely when the benefit is minimal, reports a new Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study.

This is believed to be the first study to prospectively examine the timeliness of knee replacement among a large number of patients with knee osteoarthritis who could benefit from the surgery. Few prior studies have quantified timeliness of surgery but only among patients who already had knee replacement, and these studies generally were in smaller cohorts of patients.

The ideal timing of knee replacement surgery is based on an algorithm that factors in pain, joint function, radiographic assessment and age to determine if a person will benefit from surgery.

The study was published Jan. 13 in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

“As the number of surgeries rises, we need to make sure the timing is optimal for patients to obtain the most benefit and to keep health care costs down,” said lead investigator Dr. Hassan Ghomrawi, associate professor of surgery at Northwestern Medicine.

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