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Our researchers are developing a tool that will help people considering knee or hip replacement work out the risks of surgery.
Mark Wilkinson, professor of orthopaedics at the University of Sheffield, has been awarded funding of £245,000 from Arthritis Research UK to lead teams in Sheffield and Bristol to develop the decision-making tool.
More than 160,000 people decide to undergo hip replacement or knee replacement surgery every year. While this type of operation is enormously successful in restoring a good quality of life for people with painful osteoarthritis, there are risks, including death, infection, or the implant becoming loose.
“Patients are currently dependent on the advice of their doctors and surgeons on the risk and benefits of surgery, and the choice of prosthesis,” explained Professor Wilkinson.
“Individual characteristics such as age, sex, underlying diagnosis, the choice of implant, and the surgical techniques used all affect the risk of death and other complications by 20-fold between patients.
“We believe that by developing a personal decision aid will empower patients to be active partners in the decision-making process.”
Professor Wilkinson and his team from the university’s department of human metabolism will use data from 1.6 million operations from the National Joint Registry for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to develop and validate a model that can predict an individual’s risk of death and revision (replacement) surgery, taking into account factors such as age, weight, and the state of their health.
As well as actively engaging patients in making decisions about surgery, developing the tool will hopefully lower the risk of post-operative mortality and lower the rates of follow-up surgery, as well as reducing healthcare costs.
Dr Stephen Simpson, our director of research and programmes, said: “Many people with arthritis do very well after joint replacement surgery; however there's great variability between individuals.
“Being able to predict the likely outcome of this common operation would help them assess the relative risks and benefits in advance, and decide whether a joint replacement is right for them.”
The tool will come in two formats; a patient-focused web-based tool that the patient will complete with their GP, and a second one which will enable the patient and surgeon to choose the most appropriate prosthesis.
Once developed, the decision-making tool will be piloted locally.
The majority of people who undergo knee or hip replacement surgery suffer from osteoarthritis, which affects 8.75 million people in the UK, and leads to swollen, painful joints. There is no cure and other than losing weight, exercising and taking painkillers to relieve symptoms, joint replacement surgery is the only effective treatment for severe or advanced disease.
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