Not all Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasties Are the Same: What Are the Implications in Large Database Studies?

David E. DeMik, Christopher N. Carender, Natalie A. Glass, Timothy S. Brown, Jacob M. Elkins, Nicholas A. Bedard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The use of claims databases for research after total hip and knee arthroplasty (THA, TKA) has increased exponentially. These studies rely on accurate coding, and inadvertent inclusion of patients with nonroutine indications may influence results. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the complexity of THA and TKA captured by CPT code and determine if complication rates vary based on the indication.

METHODS: The NSQIP database was queried using CPT codes 21730 and 27447 to identify patients undergoing THA and TKA from 2018 to 2019. The surgical indication was classified based on the ICD-10 diagnosis code as routine primary, complex primary, inflammatory, fracture, oncologic, revision, infection, or indeterminant. Patient factors and 30-day complications, readmission, reoperation, and wound complications were compared.

RESULTS: A total of 86,009 THA patients had 703 ICD-10 diagnosis codes and 91.4% were routine primary indications. Complication rates were: routine primary 7.4%, complex primary 11.3%, inflammatory 12.5%, fracture 23.9%, oncologic 32.4%, revision 26.9%, infection 38.7%, and indeterminant 10.3% (P < .0001). 137,500 TKA patients had 552 ICD-10 diagnosis codes and 96.1% were routine primary cases. Complication rates were: routine primary 5.9%, complex primary 8.0%, inflammatory 7.2%, fracture 38.9%, oncologic 32.7%, revision 13.3%, infection 37.7%, and indeterminant 9.6% (P < .0001). Routine primary arthroplasty had significantly lower rates of reoperation, readmission, and wound complications.

CONCLUSION: Using CPT code alone captures 10% of THA and 4% of TKA patients with procedures for nonroutine primary indications. It is essential to recognize identification of patients simply by CPT code has the potential to inadvertently introduce bias, and surgeons should critically assess methods used to define the study populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1247-1252.e2
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • coding
  • complications
  • total hip arthroplasty
  • total knee arthroplasty
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee/adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Reoperation/adverse effects
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip/adverse effects
  • Knee Joint
  • Postoperative Complications/epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Databases, Factual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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