The COVID-19 pandemic led to a national suspension of “non-urgent” elective hip and knee arthroplasty. The study aims to measure the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) volume in Scotland. Secondary objectives are to measure the success of restarting elective services and model the time required to bridge the gap left by the first period of suspension.


A retrospective observational study using the Scottish Arthroplasty Project dataset. All patients undergoing elective THAs and TKAs during the period 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2020 were included. A negative binomial regression model using historical case-volume and mid-year population estimates was built to project the future case-volume of THA and TKA in Scotland. The median monthly case volume was calculated for the period 2008 to 2019 (baseline) and compared to the actual monthly case volume for 2020. The time taken to eliminate the deficit was calculated based upon the projected monthly workload and with a potential workload between 100% to 120% of baseline.


Compared to the period 2008 to 2019, primary TKA and THA volume fell by 61.1% and 53.6%, respectively. Since restarting elective services, Scottish hospitals have achieved approximately 40% to 50% of baseline monthly activity. With no changes in current workload, by 2021 there would be a reduction of 9,180 and 10,170 for THA and TKA, respectively. Conversely, working at 120% baseline monthly output, it would take over four years to eliminate the deficit for both TKA and THA.


This national study demonstrates the significant impact that COVID-19 pandemic has had on overall THA and TKA volume. In the six months after resuming elective services, Scottish hospitals averaged less than 50% normal monthly output. Loss of operating capacity will increase treatment delays and likely worsen overall morbidity.


© 2021 Author(s) et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence, which permits the copying and redistribution of the work only, and provided the original author and source are credited. See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

Cite as

Yapp, L., Clarke, J., Moran, M., Simpson, A. & Scott, C. 2021, 'National operating volume for primary hip and knee arthroplasty in the COVID-19 era: a study utilizing the Scottish arthroplasty project dataset', Bone & Joint Open, 2(3), pp. 203-210. https://doi.org/10.1302/2633-1462.23.BJO-2020-0193.R1

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Last updated: 21 June 2022
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