Most of the evidence regarding complications following total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is based on studies of patients with osteoarthritis (OA), with little being known about outcomes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The objective of the present study was to review the current evidence regarding rates of THA/TKA complications in RA versus OA.
Data sources used were Medline, EMBase, Cinahl, Web of Science, and reference lists of articles. We included reports published between 1990 and 2011 that described studies of primary total joint arthroplasty of the hip or knee and contained information on outcomes in ≥200 RA and OA joints. Outcomes of interest included revision, hip dislocation, infection, 90-day mortality, and venous thromboembolic events. Two reviewers independently assessed each study for quality and extracted data. Where appropriate, meta-analysis was performed; if this was not possible, the level of evidence was assessed qualitatively.
Forty studies were included in this review. The results indicated that patients with RA are at increased risk of dislocation following THA (adjusted odds ratio 2.16 [95% confidence interval 1.52–3.07]). There was fair evidence to support the notion that risk of infection and risk of early revision following TKA are increased in RA versus OA. There was no evidence of any differences in rates of revision at later time points, 90-day mortality, or rates of venous thromboembolic events following THA or TKA in patients with RA versus OA. RA was explicitly defined in only 3 studies (7.5%), and only 11 studies (27.5%) included adjustment for covariates (e.g., age, sex, and comorbidity).
The findings of this literature review and meta-analysis indicate that, compared to patients with OA, patients with RA are at higher risk of dislocation following THA and higher risk of infection following TKA.