Is Weight Loss Necessary Before Total Knee or Hip Replacement Surgery?

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Patients with obesity experience similar recovery time to normal-weight patients.
Patients with obesity experience similar recovery time to normal-weight patients.

HealthDay News — Obese patients don't need to lose weight before undergoing knee or hip replacement surgery, according to a study published online in the The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Wenjun Li, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Boston, and colleagues examined the outcomes of 2040 patients who had total hip replacement and 2964 who had total knee replacement in the United States between May 2011 and March 2013.

The researchers found that obese patients achieved about the same pain relief and improved function as normal-weight patients 6 months after surgery. While obesity does increase the risk of early complications after knee or hip replacement, obesity itself should not prevent patients from having the surgery, the authors concluded.

"Our data show it's not necessary to ask patients to lose weight prior to surgery," Li said in a university news release. "It's challenging for a patient who is severely overweight and suffering in pain to exercise — often they just can't do it. Our evidence showed that severe morbidly obese patients can benefit almost equally as normal-weight patients in pain relief and gains in physical function."

Reference

Li W, Ayers DC, Lewis CG, et al. Functional gain and pain relief after total joint replacement according to obesity status. J Bone Joint Surg. 2017;99(4):1183-1189. doi:10.2106/JBJS.16.00960

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