What Is a Joint Replacement Registry? (with picture)

Marlene Garcia
Marlene Garcia
An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a metal replacement hip.
An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a metal replacement hip.

A joint replacement registry is an electronic database designed to track patients who have undergone total joint replacement surgery. Participating surgeons enter electronic health records describing the care of patients before, during, and after orthopedic surgery. Information from the joint replacement registry proves helpful to rate prosthesis devices, surgical techniques, and the number of complications leading to additional operations.

Health organizations defined specific goals when implementing a joint replacement registry. A database of information about complications with specific devices allows surgeons to choose prostheses showing better success rates. In fact, the registry led to the recall of more than a dozen defective devices in one area. Patients implanted with these joint replacement devices are commonly contacted after a recall.

Information compiled in a joint replacement registry also analyzes surgical procedures to gauge which methods generate fewer complications. The registry might identify factors that pose risks to patients during surgery, such as the selection of anesthesia. Evaluation of a joint replacement registry in one region showed patients suffered more complications when certain anesthetic drugs were used. It also showed knee surgeries lacking cement caused problems later, along with surgical techniques on the knee considered non-invasive.

An objective analysis of data included in the registry also showed people with diabetes and younger patients required more revisions after hip or knee replacement surgery. Obese patients suffered a higher rate of infection. Infection and devices that become unstable were identified as the most common side effects of joint replacement procedures.

Information compiled in a joint replacement registry is analyzed about once each year. Findings extracted from the data are forwarded to participating surgeons. In most areas where a registry exists, a high percentage of orthopedic surgeons participate by providing information.

The existence of a joint replacement registry benefits scientists researching new prosthetic devices and surgical techniques. This might lead to better care of patients with dysfunctional joints. It might also help reduce the cost of surgery as more data surfaces about problematic devices requiring a return to the hospital and additional surgery. Doctors can weigh the cost versus performance when recommending joint replacement surgery.

Nonprofit, unbiased organizations commonly oversee use of these registries, which exist in most developed countries. Members of the group remain independent from prosthetic device manufacturers and individual hospitals or doctors. Protecting patient privacy is a key component of the system, which works with government health agencies to monitor medical devices and new medications approved for use. Common goals include expanding the registry and increasing the number of physicians who participate.

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    • An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a metal replacement hip.
      An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a metal replacement hip.