A population based assessment of the use of orthopedic surgery in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

L. Massardo, S. E. Gabriel, C. S. Crowson, W. M. O'Fallon, E. L. Matteson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Objective. To describe the use of orthopedic surgery, including joint replacement surgery, in a well defined population based cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to identify characteristics that predict such use. Methods. A retrospective medical record review was performed of cases of RA incident in Rochester, MN, during the years 1955-85. Patients were followed until 1998. All joint surgeries were recorded, including joint reconstructive surgeries, total joint arthroplasty (TJA), and other joint reconstructive procedures (JRP) such as tendon transfers and resections, joint fusions, and surgeries for fractures and infections involving joints. Results. Of the total 424 RA incident cases, 148 (34.9%) patients underwent one or more (maximum of 20/patient) surgical procedures involving joints during their followup (median 14.8 yrs, range 0.2-42.8 yrs). Overall, this RA cohort had 9.7 surgeries per 100 person-yrs of followup. The estimated cumulative incidence of surgical procedures for RA at 30 yrs was 52.7% ± SE 4.2. Surgeries for arthritis related joint disease of RA included: primary TJA 76 patients (31.3 ± 4.1); JRP joint fusion 78 patients (29.4 ± 3.5); JRP soft tissue 92 patients (29.8 ± 3.3); and cervical spine fusion one patient. Non-RA (trauma and other) joint surgeries included TJA 26 patients (13.5 ± 3.4) and arthrotomy for septic arthritis 8 patients (2.4 ± 0.9). Based on Cox proportional hazards regression, the risk of having a disease related joint surgery for RA is increased in patients who are younger (p < 0.001), have positive rheumatoid factor (p = 0.01), and those with rheumatoid nodules (p < 0.001). There was a borderline significant increase in the risk of first joint surgery in women (p = 0.09). Women also had significantly more joint surgeries (11.5/100 person-yrs) than men (4.9/100 person-yrs; p < 0.001). Survival of patients who had surgery for RA related joint disease was similar to those who did not. Conclusion. This is the first population based assessment of joint surgeries performed in patients with RA. Reconstructive surgeries were common, and women had significantly more surgeries than men. Survivorship among patients with RA undergoing surgeries was similar to that of the RA patient population at large.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-56
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Epidemiology
  • Orthopedic joint surgery
  • Rheumatoid arthritic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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