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BACKGROUND: Patients undergoing lower limb arthroplasty who are severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) positive at the time of surgery have a high risk of mortality. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Care Excellence and the British Orthopaedic Association advise self-isolation for 14 days preoperatively in patients at a high risk of adverse outcomes due to COVID-19. The aim of the study is to assess whether preoperative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for SARS-CoV-2 could be performed at between 48 and 72 hours preoperatively with specific advice about minimizing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 restricted to between PCR and admission. METHODS: A multicentre, international, observational cohort study of 1,000 lower limb arthroplasty cases was performed. The dual primary outcomes were 30-day conversion to SARS-CoV-2 positive and 30-day SARS-CoV-2 mortality. Secondary outcomes included 30-day SARS-CoV-2 morbidity. RESULTS: Of the 1,000 cases, 935 (94%) had a PCR between 48 and 72 hours preoperatively. All cases were admitted to and had surgery through a COVID-free pathway. Primary knee arthroplasty was performed in 41% of cases, primary hip arthroplasty in 40%, revision knee arthroplasty in 11%, and revision hip arthroplasty in 9%. Six percent of operations were emergency operations. No cases of SARS-CoV-2 were identified within the first 30 days. CONCLUSION: Preoperative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test between 48 and 72 hours preoperatively with advice about minimizing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 restricted to between PCR and admission in conjunction with a COVID-free pathway is safe for patients undergoing primary and revision hip and knee arthroplasty. Preoperative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test alone may be safe but further adequately powered studies are required. This information is important for shared decision making with patients during the current pandemic.

Original publication




Journal article


J arthroplasty

Publication Date





1253 - 1259


COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, morbidity, mortality, orthopedic surgery, patient outcomes, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee, COVID-19, Humans, Pandemics, Polymerase Chain Reaction, SARS-CoV-2