Early Emergency Department Visits Following Primary Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

Scott A. Muffly, Qiang An, Nicholas A. Bedard, Timothy S. Brown, Jesse E. Otero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Postoperative emergency department (ED) utilization remains an understudied aspect of total joint arthroplasty (TJA). The purpose of this study is to characterize 30-day ED visits following TJA. Methods: We reviewed 4061 primary unilateral total hip and knee arthroplasty cases performed at our hospital from 2013 to 2017. The primary outcome was presentation to our institution's ED within 30 days of surgery. Chief complaints and their association to the TJA encounter, as well as readmissions and reoperations, were recorded. One-to-three propensity score matched analysis was used to identify index admission variables associated with early ED visits. Results: There were 253 recorded ED visits within 30 days of TJA (218 cases, 5.4%). Nearly 60% of ED visits were directly related to the TJA encounter. The remainder were medically related, most commonly for gastrointestinal complaints. The most common TJA-related complaints were surgical limb pain (28%), wound concerns (20%), and swelling (20%). These complaints comprised two-thirds of TJA-related ED visits, though accounted for only 19.4% and 9.5% of readmissions and reoperations observed in this cohort, respectively. Perioperative transfusion, length of stay, primary insurer, and discharge disposition were not associated with an ED visit. Conclusion: ED visits within 30 days of TJA were common (5.4%). Most visits related to the index procedure were due to surgical limb pain, wound concerns, and swelling. These complaints accounted for a minority of readmissions and reoperations. This study suggests that perioperative strategies addressing common postoperative concerns are warranted to mitigate acute care use after TJA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1915-1920
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • acute care
  • complication
  • emergency department
  • total hip arthroplasty
  • total joint arthroplasty
  • total knee arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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