Weight Loss Surgery Patients See Improvement in Joint Replacement Issues
A recent study shows better joint replacement improvements for obese patients who endure weight loss surgery. Obese patients who choose to have surgery before having hip or knee replacement surgery may have better overall outcomes then those who choose not to undergo surgery. This research was presented from the finding of two different new studies at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in Las Vegas.
The benefits of weight loss surgery have been reported throughout the media. Some related research was reported in Medical News Today in November 2014 claiming that bariatric surgery is highly effective for Type II Diabetes prevention. Other studies have found that weight loss surgery can help to reduce some types of cancers and the risk of heart disease.
According to lead investigator Dr. Emily Dodwell, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York, NY and her research team, how weight-loss surgery affects patient outcomes for joint replacements was initially unclear.
“We know that bariatric surgery is a cost-effective intervention for morbid obesity,” notes study co-author Dr. Alexander McLawhorn, a chief orthopedic surgery resident at HSS. “Yet, the cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery to achieve weight loss prior to joint replacement and thus decrease the associated complications and costs in morbidly obese patients was unknown.”
About the Study
Dr. Dodwell and her research team recruited many obese patients requiring knee or hip replacement. Some patients had body mass index of over 40 while some had one of at least 35 with a related comorbidity, an obesity-related medical condition. The patients were divided into two separate groups, the first understand a hip or knee replacement surgery without having weight loss surgery first. The other group had weight loss surgery then had the hip or knee replacement surgery about 2 years following their first procedure. The researchers assumed that about a third of the patients studied who received weight loss surgery lost their excess weight before having joint replacement surgery.
Dodwell says that their findings show that weight-loss surgery for obese patients before having joint replacement is “likely a cost-effective option from a public payer standpoint in order to improve outcomes in obese patients who are candidates for joint replacement.”
While some health care systems do not include weight loss surgery as a covered benefit, it is possible that studies like this one will be helpful in re-evaluating whether it should be considered a reasonable covered benefit for some patients.
While many doctors believe it is impractical to delay severe hip or knee pain to have weight loss surgery first, it may be a good approach for those with minor or moderate pain that may be a result of extreme weight on the joints.