Background — A relation between provider volume and outcome of total joint replacement (TJR) has not been demonstrated in Canada. Given the recent increase in TJR, changing patient characteristics and small sizes of previous Ontario studies, we reassessed whether adverse outcomes of TJR are related to hospital and surgeon procedure volumes.
Methods — We included all Ontarians aged 20 years and older who underwent a unilateral elective primary total hip replacement (THR) or total knee replacement (TKR) between April 2000 and March 2004. The main data sources were hospital discharge abstracts and physician billings. We defined provider volume as the average annual number of primary and revision procedures performed by hospitals and surgeons during the study period. We assessed the association between procedure volumes and acute length of hospital stay (ALOS) and between volume and rate of surgical complications during the index admission; death within 90 days of operation; readmission for amputation, fusion or excision within 1 year; and revision arthroplasty within 1 year. We adjusted for age, sex, comorbidity, arthritis type, teaching hospital status and discharge disposition. The analyses of hospital volume were adjusted for surgeon volume and vice versa.
Results — We included 20,290 patients who received THR and 27,217 who received TKR. Patient age, sex and comorbidity were significant predictors of complications and mortality. There were no associations between provider volume and mortality. Findings for other outcomes were mixed. Surgeon procedure volume was related to rates of revision THR but not to rates of revision TKR. Shorter ALOS was associated with male sex, younger age, fewer comorbidities, discharge to a rehabilitation unit or facility and greater surgeon volume.
Conclusion — Patient characteristics were significant predictors of complications, ALOS and mortality after primary TJR. Evidence for a relation between provider volume and outcome was limited and inconsistent.
View full text
Health care evaluation