Preoperative Alcohol Use Tied to Arthroplasty Complications

Complications following total joint arthroplasty are significantly related to alcohol misuse in the year prior to surgery, according to a study published in the Feb. 16 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.
Alex H.S. Harris, Ph.D., from the Center for Health Care Evaluation in Melno Park, Calif., and colleagues evaluated the association between a patient's preoperative alcohol screening score and risk of complications after total joint arthroplasty. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) was used for screening alcohol use of 185 male patients. Patients were screened in the year preceding surgery and were given scores ranging from zero to 12, with higher scores indicating greater and more frequent alcohol consumption. The association between screening scores and post-surgical complications was analyzed after adjusting for age and comorbidities.

The investigators found that 32 patients had an AUDIT-C score suggesting alcohol misuse before their surgery. Post-surgery, six of these patients developed one complication, four developed two complications, and two patients had three complications. The AUDIT-C screening scores were significantly related to the number of complications; every point increase in the AUDIT-C score above one had a 29 percent increase in the expected number of complications.

"Preoperative screening for alcohol misuse and counseling patients about the risks of their alcohol consumption may be indicated for patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty," the authors write.