Follow-up after hip and knee arthroplasty is advocated to identify asymptomatic loosening and improve patient satisfaction. There are, however, financial and time implications associated with regular clinic appointments. Assessment through virtual means has been suggested as an alternative.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
At the West Suffolk Hospital, following arthroplasty surgery of the lower limb, patients are followed-up via a questionnaire at one and five years postoperatively, then subsequently at five-yearly intervals. Patients are recalled based on the outcome of these assessments. Using a locally compiled data base we identified all patients reviewed between 2011 and 2015 using this virtual assessment process and examined their outcomes.
During the five years of follow-up, 5,380 patients were eligible for assessment. Compliance varied from 77% follow up for hips and 83% for knees. Ten patients were recalled following total hip replacement, eight for x-ray changes and one for a poor satisfaction score. Five went on to undergo revision surgery. Some 56 recalls to clinic following knee arthroplasty were seen; 42 due to a poor Oxford Knee Score, 6 with associated x-ray abnormalities and 6 isolated abnormal x-rays. Five subsequently underwent revision surgery; 30 (54%) were discharged after initial review and 18 (32%) were referred to different subspecialties.As a result of the virtual review process, 4,219 clinic appointments were avoided, with no documented admissions as a result of a missed complication from virtual review.
A virtual arthroplasty clinic significantly reduces the number of patients attending regular follow-up clinics, without compromising safe practice.