Is a questionnaire and radiograph-based follow-up model for patients with primary hip and knee arthroplasty a viable alternative to traditional regular outpatient follow-up clinic?

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Increasing demand for total hip and knee arthroplasty (THA/TKA) and associated follow-up has placed huge demands on orthopaedic services. Feasible follow-up mechanisms are therefore essential.


We conducted an audit of clinical follow-up decision-making for THA/TKA based on questionnaire/radiograph review compared with local practice of Arthroplasty Care Practitioner (ACP)-led outpatient follow-up. In all 599 patients attending an ACP-led THA/TKA follow-up clinic had a pelvic/knee radiograph, completed a pain/function questionnaire and were reviewed by an ACP. An experienced orthopaedic surgeon reviewed the same radiographs and questionnaires, without patient contact or knowledge of the ACP's decision. Each pathway classified patients into: urgent review, annual monitoring, routine follow-up or discharge.


In total, 401 hip and 198 knee patients were included. There was substantial agreement between the ACP and surgeon for both hip (kappa = 0.69, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.62 to 0.76) and knee (kappa = 0.81, 95% CI 0.74 to 0.88). Positive agreement was very high for discharge and routine follow-up; however the ACP was more likely to select annual monitoring and the surgeon urgent review.


Review of the questionnaire/radiograph together identified all patients in need of increased surveillance, with good agreement for on-going patient management. However, review of the radiograph or questionnaire alone missed some patients with potential problems. A radiograph in conjunction with a questionnaire as a review may represent a cost effective THA/TKA follow-up mechanism.


Take home message: A questionnaire and radiograph-based remote review may represent a cost-effective total joint arthroplasty follow-up mechanism; thereby reducing the considerable burden that follow-up currently places on the NHS.

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