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First Few Weeks Most Critical After Joint Replacement

Last Updated: January 11, 2010.

Patients undergoing hip or knee replacement have a small but increased risk of death that persists for about 26 days after surgery, according to a study in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

MONDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Patients undergoing hip or knee replacement have a small but increased risk of death that persists for about 26 days after surgery, according to a study in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Stein Atlie Lie, Ph.D., of Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, and colleagues assessed data from the comprehensive national registries in Australia and Norway on 81,856 patients who underwent total knee replacement and 106,254 patients who underwent a total hip replacement, all of whom were aged 50 to 80 years.

During the first 26 postoperative days, the researchers estimated that excess mortality was 0.12 percent compared to a baseline mortality calculated as the average mortality from Day 100 to Day 200. They also found that male sex and age over 70 years were the most significant risk factors for excessive early postoperative mortality.

"The increase in early postoperative mortality was highest immediately after the operation, and after 21 days postoperatively the increase in the early postoperative mortality was negligible," the authors write.

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