Between-hospital and between-surgeon variation in thresholds for hip and knee replacement

Emma L. Heath, Ilana N. Ackerman, Carl Holder, Michelle F. Lorimer, Stephen E. Graves, Ian A. Harris

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Total hip replacement (THR) and total knee replacement (TKR) are cost-effective interventions to reduce pain and disability associated with osteoarthritis, however there is no clear guidelines available to determine appropriate patient selection and the timing of surgery. This prospective cohort study aimed to evaluate the hospital- and surgeon-level variation in the severity of patient-reported symptoms prior to THR and TKR. Methods: Patients undergoing primary THR (n = 4330) or TKR (n = 7054) for osteoarthritis who participated in a national registry-led Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) pilot program were included in the analysis. Pre-operative Oxford Hip Score (OHS) and Oxford Knee Score (OKS) (range 0–48; representing worst to best hip/knee pain and function) data were examined for variation between private and public hospitals and between surgeons using linear mixed models. Results: Pre-operative mean OHS was significantly higher (better) in patients whose surgery was performed in a private hospital compared to public hospitals; 21.39 versus 18.11 (mean difference 3.27, 95% CI 1.75, 4.79). For OKS, the difference between private hospital and public hospital scores was dependent on BMI and gender. Most of the variation in pre-operative OHS and OKS was not at the individual hospital- or surgeon-level, which explained only a negligible proportion of the model variance (⟨5%) for THR and TKR. Conclusion: Apart from a difference between private and public hospitals, there was little between-hospital or between-surgeon symptom variation in joint-specific pain and function prior to THR or TKR. The findings suggest consistency in the surgical thresholds for patients being offered hip and knee joint replacement procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2229-2234
Number of pages6
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • arthroplasty
  • orthopaedic surgeons
  • patient reported outcome measures
  • private hospitals
  • public hospitals

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