Total hip arthroplasty is recommended for elderly patients with fractured neck of femur who are independently mobile, have few co-morbidities and are not cognitively impaired. Providing a daily total hip arthroplasty service is challenging for some units in the UK and considering that these patients may be physiologically distinct from the average hip fracture patient, loss of the best practice tariff as a result of surgical delay may be unjustified. The aim of this study was to determine whether time to surgical intervention for patients eligible for total hip arthroplasty had a negative impact on patient complications, length of stay and functional outcomes.
All patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty for fractured neck of femur at our institution over a ten-year period were identified. Complications and functional outcomes were compared between patients receiving total hip arthroplasty before and after 36 hours.
Of 112 consecutive patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty, 70 responded to a questionnaire or telephone consultation. Four patients were excluded owing to delayed presentation, the presence of advanced rheumatoid arthritis or a pathological fracture. Two-thirds (64%) of the remaining 66 patients underwent surgery within 36 hours of presentation. There were no significant differences between the groups of patients receiving surgery before or after 36 hours with regard to postoperative length of stay, complications, Oxford hip scores or visual analogue scale scores for state of health.
Delaying surgery for patients eligible for total hip arthroplasty as per the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines is justified and should not incur loss of the best practice tariff.