Acta Orthop. 2022 Jun 8;93:528-533. doi: 10.2340/17453674.2022.2268.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Elective total hip replacement (THR) was halted in our institution during the COVID-19 surge in March 2020. Afterwards, elective THR volume increased with emphasis on fast-track protocols, early discharge, and post-discharge virtual care. We compare early outcomes during this "return-to-normal period" with those of a matched pre-pandemic cohort.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We identified 757 patients undergoing THR from June to August 2020, who were matched 1:1 with a control cohort from June to August 2019. Length of stay (LOS) for the study cohort was lower than the control cohort (31 vs. 45 hours; p < 0.001). The time to first postoperative physical therapy (PT) was shorter in the study cohort (370 vs. 425 minutes; p < 0.001). More patients were discharged home in the study cohort (99% vs. 94%; p < 0.001). Study patients utilized telehealth office and rehabilitation services 14 times more frequently (39% vs. 2.8%; p < 0.001). Outcomes included post-discharge 90-day unscheduled office visits, emergency room (ER) visits, complications, readmissions, and PROMs (HOOS JR, and VR-12 mental/physical). Mann-Whitney U and chi-square tests were used for group comparisons.
RESULTS: Rates of 90-day unscheduled outpatient visits (5.0% vs. 7.3%), ER visits (5.0% vs. 4.8%), hospital readmissions (4.0% vs. 2.8%), complications (0.04% vs. 0.03%), and 3-month PROMs were similar between cohorts. There was no 90-day mortality.
INTERPRETATION: A reduction in LOS and increased telehealth use for office and rehabilitation visits did not adversely influence 90-day clinical outcomes and PROMs. Our findings lend further support for the utilization of fast-track arthroplasty with augmentation of postoperative care delivery using telemedicine.
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