The impact of socioeconomic status on the efficacy and revision rates of total knee arthroplasty
Garcia Reinoso, Lucas
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With the increasing advocacy for maintaining a healthy lifestyle in regards to exercise and the average age of the population in the U.S. growing older, there has been an increased incidence of arthritic knee damage as a result of osteoarthritis. Once non-procedural methods of treatment have been exhausted, such as NSAIDs and physical therapy, the most effective therapy to regain previous range of motion and quality of life is total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Additionally, TKA is useful to treat patients with rheumatoid disease once their knees have reached end-stage cartilage damage, although it does not restore function as well in these patients as it does in patients with osteoarthritis. Current technological developments have produced prostheses that mimic physiological movement and allow attachment of components positioned similarly to ligaments in the human knee, providing better longevity and functional recovery from the damaged state. The TKA procedure has become fast-tracked to limit the length of stay for patients and the cost to both the individual and the hospital. Though this change to fast-track procedures has helped limit post-operative complications, such as venous thromboembolism, multiple comorbidities and componentry failure continue to increase the risk of failure or revision of the procedure. With the projected increase in the need for TKAs in the future, it is important to review factors that may influence access and success of this procedure, for example, the effect socioeconomic status has on the ability of different patients to receive quality replacements and experience sustained quality of life. Multiple studies have shown that utilization of TKA differs between low income and high income populations, with racial minority populations undergoing the procedure less often as they represent a greater percentage of low income populations. Interestingly, low income patients report greater improvement in function when compared to high income patients, most likely due to low income patients being admitted with more severe knee damage when compared to the other population. Their satisfaction, along with financial constraints and insurance, are factors that lower the rate of revision for low income populations even though their measured range of motion post-operatively is not as good as that in high income populations on average. Social support has been determined to be a significant factor in determining whether patients will undergo TKA and follow the rehabilitation prescribed to them appropriately. Studies have shown less social support reported from minority groups, but not low income cohorts specifically. Using the current knowledge of the impact these differences in socioeconomic status can have on the outcomes of TKA, can help create healthcare environments which will optimize the success rate of TKA for all patients, regardless of socioeconomic status, and prevent unnecessary strain on the healthcare system due to avoidable post-operative issues. Future studies should determine what policies and procedures can be implemented to help aid patients, such as greater social support, and to support hospitals with limited resources in an effort to improve surgical outcomes.