Slim Risk of Death After Joint Replacement

THURSDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who undergo knee or hip replacement surgery have a slightly increased risk of death for only 26 days after the procedure, claims a study that challenges earlier findings.

"Previous studies suggesting that increased mortality exists for as long as 60 or 90 days post hip or knee replacement surgery may be wrong. We believe the risk is tied to a much shorter duration," study author Stein Atle Lie, a professor in the surgical sciences department at the University of Bergen in Norway, said in a news release.

The researchers analyzed data on 81,856 Australian and Norwegian patients who underwent total knee replacement and 106,254 patients who had total hip replacement. The risk of death for 26 days after surgery was 0.1%. After that, the increased risk of death was negligible.

Male patients and those older than 70 had the highest risk of death within 26 days after knee or hip replacement, according to the study published in the January issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

"We conducted this study to help people contemplating hip or knee replacement. As with all surgeries, there is some increased risk of postoperative mortality. However, we were pleased to find the mortality rate is so minimal -- less than 1% -- following hip and knee replacements," Lie said.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, news release, Jan. 4, 2010