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Inpatient Pulmonary Embolism After Elective Primary Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty in the United States
Usman Zahir, MD1; Robert S. Sterling, MD1; Vincent D. Pellegrini, Jr., MD1; Mary L. Forte, PhD, DC2
1 Department of Orthopaedics, University of Maryland Medical Center, 11SB, 22 South Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. E-mail address for U. Zahir: Uzahir1980@gmail.com. E-mail address for R.S. Sterling: rsterling@umoa.umm.edu. E-mail address for V.D. Pellegrini: pellegvd@musc.edu
2 Departments of Epidemiology and Orthopaedics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, AHB Room 540D, 100 Penn Street Allied Health Building, Baltimore, MD 21201
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Investigation performed at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of an aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 Nov 20;95(22):e175 1-8. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.00466
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The incidence of inpatient pulmonary embolism in patients who have elective primary hip and knee arthroplasty in the United States is unknown. Prior studies have included patients with cancer, trauma, or revisions. The goal of this study was to determine the incidence and risks of inpatient pulmonary embolism after elective arthroplasty by type of procedure.


We used the 1998 to 2009 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample for this retrospective cohort study. Patients who were sixty years of age or older and underwent elective primary total hip or knee arthroplasty were included. The study variable was the type of arthroplasty: total hip, total knee, or two joints. Inpatient pulmonary embolism was the primary outcome; mortality was secondary. Logistic regression determined the adjusted odds ratios of inpatient pulmonary embolism by procedure, adjusting for age, sex, Charlson Comorbidity Index, atrial fibrillation, and surgical indication.


Records represented 5,044,403 hospital discharges after primary total hip or knee arthroplasty. Total knee arthroplasty comprised 66% of the admissions. Less than 5% of patients had two joint procedures. The overall incidence of pulmonary embolism was 0.358% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.338, 0.378). The incidence of pulmonary embolism differed by procedure and was highest among patients who had two-joint arthroplasty (0.777%; 95% CI, 0.677, 0.876), was lowest in recipients of total hip arthroplasty (0.201%; 95% CI, 0.179, 0.223), and was intermediate in patients who had total knee arthroplasty (0.400%; 95% CI, 0.377, 0.423). The adjusted odds ratios of pulmonary embolism in patients who had two joint procedures were 3.89 times higher than among patients who had total hip arthroplasty, controlling for other factors.


Elective total knee arthroplasty is associated with a higher incidence and odds of inpatient pulmonary embolism than is total hip arthroplasty; multiple procedures pose the highest risk for pulmonary embolism and associated mortality.

Level of Evidence: 

Prognostic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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