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The Utility of Histological Examination of Tissue Removed during Elective Joint Replacement. A Preliminary Assessment*
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Investigation performed at the Department of Pathology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 1998 Mar 01;80(3):331-5
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The utility of histological examination of tissue removed during elective joint replacement has not been determined. During a one-year period, tissue removed during 168 total joint replacements was submitted for histological examination. The clinical and histological diagnoses, the cost of the histological study, and the clinical course were determined for all joints. Degenerative joint disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and avascular necrosis accounted for 98 per cent of the histological diagnoses. There were sixteen discrepancies between the clinical and histological diagnoses. The histological diagnosis did not affect the treatment of fifteen of these joints. However, the treatment was altered for one joint that had a clinical diagnosis of degenerative joint disease and a histological diagnosis of osteomyelitis; on review, the initial histological diagnosis was determined to be incorrect. In 1996 dollars, the cost of histological examination for all 168 joints was $10,698.24. Although there would be considerable cost-savings on a population basis if histological examination were not performed, this savings must be weighed against the effect of a misdiagnosis on the management of a particular patient.

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    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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