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Complications challenge rheumatoid arthritis patients after joint replacement surgery

In the first systemic review of evidence assessing complications following total joint arthroplasty, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were found to have an increased risk for hip dislocation after hip replacement surgery compared to those with osteoarthritis (OA).

Study findings published online in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), also indicate that RA patients have a higher infection risk following total knee replacement than patients with OA.

The ACR reports that OA—the most common form of arthritis—affects 27 million Americans 25 years of age and older, and another 1.3 million adults are living with RA. Previous studies show that one of the most effective treatment options for end-stage arthritis of the hip or knee is total joint replacement. Experts suggest that success with this intervention is evident given the increasing rates of joint replacements. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 676,000 total knee replacements and 327,000 total hip replacements were performed in the U.S. in 2009.

"Joint arthroplasty is successful in relieving the pain and disability caused by hip or knee arthritis," said lead author Dr. Bheeshma Ravi from the University of Toronto and Women's College Research Institute (WCRI) in Canada. "While complication rates are low there are some cases with serious consequences that include infection, joint dislocation, blood clots and even death."

To explore this important issue, Dr. Ravi and colleagues conducted a systemic review of the literature to assess complication risk in OA and RA patients following joint replacement surgery. Evidence from January 1990 to December 2011 was evaluated and 40 studies were included in the analysis. The study population included patients aged 18 years or older who had hip or knee replacements and excluded patients who had replacement surgery due to a fracture or cancer. Studies that involved 200 joints or more were incorporated in the current analysis.

Analysis shows RA patients had a higher risk of dislocation following hip replacement surgery than patients with OA. RA patients who had total knee replacements were also at higher risk of infection compared to those with OA. The team found no difference in revision rate, 90-day mortality or blood clot risk between the two patient groups. Dr. Ravi concludes, "Additional studies to confirm our findings are necessary and further investigation of possible reasons for differences in joint replacement complication rates between RA and OA patients is needed."

This study is published in Arthritis & Rheumatism. Media wishing to receive a PDF of the article may contact

Full citation: "A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Comparing Complications following Total Joint Arthroplasty for Rheumatoid Arthritis versus Osteoarthritis." Bheeshma Ravi, Benjamin Escott, Prakesh S Shah, Richard Jenkinson, Jas Chahal, Earl Bogoch, Hans Kreder, Gillian Hawker. Arthritis & Rheumatism; Published Online: November 28, 2012 (DOI: 10.1002/art.37690).

URL Upon Publication:

Author Contact: Media wishing to speak with Dr. Ravi may contact Magda Stec with Women's College Hospital at or at 416-323-6400 ext. 3210.

About the Journal

Arthritis & Rheumatism is an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP), a division of the College, and covers all aspects of inflammatory disease. The American College of Rheumatology is the professional organization who share a dedication to healing, preventing disability, and curing the more than 100 types of arthritis and related disabling and sometimes fatal disorders of the joints, muscles, and bones. Members include practicing physicians, research scientists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers. The journal is published by Wiley on behalf of the ACR. For more information, please visit
About Wiley

Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. has been a valued source of information and understanding for more than 200 years, helping people around the world meet their needs and fulfill their aspirations. Wiley and its acquired companies have published the works of more than 450 Nobel laureates in all categories: Literature, Economics, Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Peace.

Wiley is a global provider of content and content-enabled workflow solutions in areas of scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly research; professional development; and education. Our core businesses produce scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, reference works, books, database services, and advertising; professional books, subscription products, certification and training services and online applications; and education content and services including integrated online teaching and learning resources for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. Wiley's global headquarters are located in Hoboken, New Jersey, with operations in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia. The Company's Web site can be accessed at The Company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols JWa and JWb.

Dawn Peters | EurekAlert!
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