AIMS: The primary aim was to assess the rate of postoperative COVID-19 following hip and knee arthroplasty performed in March 2020 in the UK. The secondary aims were to assess whether there were clinical factors associated with COVID-19 status, the mortality rate of patients with COVID-19, and the rate of potential COVID-19 in patients not presenting to healthcare services.

METHODS: A multicentre retrospective study was conducted of patients undergoing hip or knee arthroplasty during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (1 March 2020 to 31 March 2020) with a minimum of 60 days follow-up. Patient demographics, American Society of Anesthesiologists grade, procedure type, primary or revision, length of stay (LOS), COVID-19 test status, and postoperative mortality were recorded. A subgroup of patients (n = 211) who had not presented to healthcare services after discharge were contacted and questioned as to whether they had symptoms of COVID-19.

RESULTS: Five (0.5%) of 1,073 patients who underwent hip or knee arthroplasty tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 postoperatively. When adjusting for confounding factors, increasing LOS (p = 0.022) was the only significant factor associated with developing COVID-19 following surgery and a stay greater than three days was a reliable predictor with an area under the curve of 81% (p = 0.018). There were three (0.3%) deaths in the study cohort and the overall mortality rate attributable to COVID-19 was 0.09% (n = 1/1,073), with one (20%) of the five patients with COVID-19 dying postoperatively. Of the 211 patients contacted, two had symptoms within two to 14 days postoperatively with a positive predictive value of 31% and it was therefore estimated that one patient may have had undiagnosed COVID-19.

CONCLUSION: The rate of postoperative COVID-19 was 0.5% and may have been as high as 1% when accounting for those patients not presenting to healthcare services, which was similar to the estimated population prevalence during the study period. The overall mortality rate secondary to COVID-19 was low (0.09%), however the mortality rate for those patients developing COVID-19 was 20%. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(4):681-688.


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Clement, N., Hall, A., Kader, N., IMPACT Restart Collaboration, Ollivere, B., Oussedik, S., Kader, D., Deehan, D. & Duckworth, A. 2021, 'The rate of COVID-19 and associated mortality after elective hip and knee arthroplasty prior to cessation of elective services in UK: A multicentre study conducted during March 2020', Bone and Joint Journal, 103-B(4), pp. 681-688. https://doi.org/10.1302/0301-620X.103B.BJJ-2020-1776.R1

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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