As utilization rates for total joint arthroplasty increase, there is a hesitancy to perform this surgery on very old patients. The objective of this prospective study was to compare pain, functional, and health-related quality-of-life outcomes after total hip and total knee arthroplasty in an older patient group (≥80 years) and a representative younger patient group (55-79 years).
In an inception community-based cohort within a Canadian health care system, 454 patients who received primary total hip arthroplasty (n = 197) or total knee arthroplasty (n = 257) were evaluated within a month prior to surgery and 6 months postoperatively. Pain, function, and health-related quality of life were evaluated with the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) Osteoarthritis Index and the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36).
There were no age-related differences in joint pain, function, or quality-of-life measures preoperatively or 6 months postoperatively. Furthermore, after adjusting for potential confounding effects, age was not a significant determinant of pain or function. Although those in the older and younger groups had comparable numbers of comorbid conditions and complications, those in the older group were more likely to be transferred to a rehabilitation facility than younger patients. Regardless of age, patients did not achieve comparable overall physical health when matched with the general population for age and sex.
With increasing life expectancy and elective surgery improving quality of life, age alone is not a factor that affects the outcome of joint arthroplasty and should not be a limiting factor when considering who should receive this surgery.