A small group of patients may require total hip arthroplasty, total knee arthroplasty, or other joint replacement surgery after OLT for osteoporotic fractures, osteonecrosis, and osteoarthritis. Although arthroplasty is safe in the general population, its safety in liver transplant recipients is unclear. The aim of the study was to determine the safety and outcome of joint replacement surgery in our liver transplant recipients. A retrospective analysis was performed on all liver transplant recipients who had total joint arthroplasty at a single teaching institution between 1986 and 2002. Data regarding major intraoperative and postoperative complications was obtained from the medical charts and a hospital-based computer system. Of over 1,200 liver transplant recipients, we identified 7 patients who underwent 12 total arthroplasties (8 knee, 3 hip, 1 ankle). Joint replacements were performed electively for osteonecrosis (5 of 12) and osteoarthritis (5 of 12), whereas two hip arthroplasties were performed emergently for fractures. All patients with osteonecrosis or hip fracture had been treated with prolonged corticosteroids. There were no deaths or major complications in the intraoperative and postoperative periods. On long-term follow-up, no patients have had pain, dislocation, or infection in the postsurgical joint. No joint revision surgery has been required. In conclusion, a small number of stable liver transplant recipients at our institution underwent joint replacement surgery without major short-term or long-term complications. Our study suggests that joint replacement surgery may be safely and successfully performed in this population, although larger, randomized, prospective trials are needed to confirm our findings.
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