Obese People More Likely to Become Dependent After Joint Surgery

If findings of a new study are to be believed then people who undergo joint surgery are more at risk of suffering from a disability in the following years if they are obese. Obese people who undergo joint replacement surgery for arthritis can have a 35 percent increased risk of dependence post the surgery, warns the study.

Obese People More Likely to Become Dependent After Joint Surgery“I think there’s been a lot of research on mortality and a lot of research on complications, but not too much on how people actually get back to how they perform at home,” said lead author Dr. Timothy Gaulton, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“That was a part of the reason that we wanted to look at the outcome, and in general obese patients,” said Gaulton.
Researchers warned that potential obese joint surgery patients must know that in some circumstances, because of their age, weight or preoperative functional dependence, they may be at higher risk of getting more dependent after surgery.

“It’s something that needs to be considered both for the patient and for the surgeon when they make this decision about moving forward with getting a joint surgery,” he said.

For the study, Gaulton and colleagues looked at 2,519 adults over age 61 who underwent joint surgery for arthritis. Nearly two-thirds of the patients had joint replacements, and 45 percent of them were considered obese, having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above at the time of their surgery. All the participants were asked before and during the following two years of surgery if they had any physical, mental, emotional or memory problems that had an adverse impact on their routine activities. These tasks of daily living could include several different things like getting out of bed, toileting, bathing, and eating etc. Patients needing assistance for any of these activities were considered suffering from a dependence disability.

After analyzing the answers of the respondents, the research team found that about 22 percent of study participants had new or worsening dependence disability nearly two years after having surgery. The dependency rate was more than one in four obese patients and one in five non-obese patients, the researchers calculated. They found obese joint surgery patients had a 35 percent increased risk of dependence post the surgery compared to non-obese patients.

“We weren’t surprised by the association between obesity and outcomes, but I think we were surprised that the percentage of patients who had a new disability after surgery was so high. It wasn’t just obese patients, I think it was elderly patients in general,” Gauton said.

The study team proposed that further research is needed to confirm the link between obese people and their dependence risk after the surgery. The study team reported their findings in the British Journal of Anaesthesia.

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