Obesity and Joint Replacement Surgery
Infection Risk After Knee Replacement Skyrockets in Morbidly Obese
The benefits of joint replacement should be carefully considered since there is a high risk of infection when joint replacement is performed in patients that are morbidly obese (defined as BMI > 30).
Study from July 2012 Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.
Infection rate if normal weight is 4 in one thousand cases.
Infection rate if morbidly obese is 1 in ten cases.
A morbidly obese person is 25 times more likely to suffer an infection after joint replacement.
These risks are even higher if there is both Diabetes and Obesity.
The mental, physical and monetary cost to treat an infected total joint include minimum 2 more surgeries including removal of implant for a period of months, mobility with a walker, hard to drive and go to work for months, intravenous antibiotics for 4-8 weeks, and cost is at least $50,000 “extra” compared to no infection.
Current best practices recommend advising most patients to optimize body weight and exercise to improve leg function prior to Total Joint Replacement surgery. There are rare exceptions when the benefits of surgery warrant taking such a high risk.