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Total hip arthroplasty (THA) surgery for elderly people with multimorbidity increases the risk of serious health hazards including mortality. Whether such background morbidity reduces the clinical benefit is less clear. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate how pre-existing health status, using multiple approaches, influences risks of, and quality of life benefits from, THA. SETTING: Longitudinal record linkage study of a UK sample linking their primary care to their secondary care records. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 6682 patients were included, based on the recording of the diagnosis of hip osteoarthritis in a national primary care register and the recording of the receipt of THA in a national secondary care register.Data were extracted from the primary care register on background health and morbidity status using five different constructs: Charlson Comorbidity Index, Electronic Frailty Index (eFI) and counts of comorbidity disorders (from list of 17), prescribed medications and number of primary care visits prior to recording of THA. OUTCOME MEASURES: (1) Postoperative complications and mortality; (2) postoperative hip pain and function using the Oxford Hip Score (OHS) and health-related quality of life using the EuroQoL (EQ)-5D score. RESULTS: Perioperative complication rate was 3.2% and mortality was 0.9%, both increased with worse preoperative health status although this relationship varied depending on the morbidity construct: the eFI showing the strongest relationship but number of visits having no predictive value. By contrast, the benefits were not reduced in those with worse preoperative health, and improvement in both OHS and EQ-5D was observed in all the morbidity categories. CONCLUSIONS: Independent of preoperative morbidity, THA leads to similar substantial improvements in quality of life. These are offset by an increase in medical complications in some subgroups of patients with high morbidity, depending on the definition used. For most elderly people, their other health disorders should not be a barrier for THA.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmj open

Publication Date





geriatric medicine, hip, orthopaedic & trauma surgery, surgery