What is the Impact of Body Mass Index Cutoffs on Total Knee Arthroplasty Complications?

Published:December 21, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arth.2021.12.024



      Body mass index (BMI) cutoffs are commonly used to decide whether to offer obese patients elective total knee arthroplasty (TKA). However, weight loss goals may be unachievable for many patients who are consequentially denied complication-free surgery. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of different BMI cutoffs on the rates of complication-free surgery after TKA.


      Patients undergoing elective, primary TKA from 2015 to 2018 were identified in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database using Common Procedural Terminology code 27447. The BMI and rates of any thirty-day complication were collected. BMI cutoffs of 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 kg/m2 were applied to model the incidence of complications if TKA would have been allowed or denied based on the BMI.


      A total of 314,719 patients underwent TKA, and 46,386 (14.7%) had a BMI ≥40 kg/m2. With a BMI cutoff of 40 kg/m2, 268,333 (85.3%) patients would have undergone TKA. A total of 282,552 (94.8%) would experience complication-free surgery, and 17.3% of all complications would be prevented. TKA would proceed for 309,479 (98.3%) patients at a BMI cutoff of 50 kg/m2. A total of 293,108 (94.7%) would not experience a complication, and 2.8% of complications would be prevented. A BMI cutoff of 35 kg/m2 would prevent 36.6% of all complications while allowing 94.8% of complication-free surgeries to proceed.


      Lower BMI cutoffs can reduce complications, but will limit access to complication-free TKA for many patients. These data do not indicate TKA should be performed without consideration of risks from obesity; however, a holistic assessment and shared decision-making may be more valuable when deciding on appropriate goal weight reduction.


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