Which Postoperative Day After Total Joint Arthroplasty Are Catastrophic Events Most Likely to Occur?

Daniel J. Johnson*, Matthew J. Hartwell, Joseph A. Weiner, Kevin D. Hardt, David W. Manning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Despite lacking granularity, large database registries can help provide important information on rare outcomes following total joint arthroplasty (TJA). In an era of short stay and outpatient arthroplasty, an awareness of the timeframe for most common catastrophic complications can help providers maintain an appropriate degree of suspicion for these significant events. Methods: Patients undergoing primary TJA between 2011 and 2016 were identified in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and queried for 4 adverse postoperative outcomes: pulmonary embolism (PE), myocardial infarction or cardiac arrest, cerebrovascular accident, and death. The timing of postoperative events was compared, and also their association with medical comorbidities and timing in inpatient vs outpatient arthroplasty. Results: A total of 341,601 patients met inclusion criteria. Of them, 1631 (0.48%) patients sustained a postoperative PE, 1033 (0.3%) patients had a cardiac event, 304 patients had a cerebrovascular accident (0.09%), and 608 (0.18%) patients expired. Greater than 60% of all these complications occurred between postoperative days 0 and 5, including 65% of PE. On postoperative day 0, a catastrophic event is 13 times more likely to be a cardiac event (80.7%) compared to a PE (6%). However, by postoperative day 1, a cardiac event (41.2%) is only 1.03 times more likely than a PE (40%) and by postoperative day 2, a PE (62%) is twice as likely as a cardiac event (30%). Conclusion: Risk assessment for catastrophic event and timeliness of occurrence may guide providers to recommend enhanced observation for specific patients undergoing TJA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2466-2472
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • complications
  • outpatient arthroplasty
  • pulmonary embolism
  • total hip arthroplasty
  • total knee arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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