1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Amager and Hvidovre Hospital, The Capital Region of Denmark
clinical and organizational aspects
Fast-track hip and knee arthroplasty aims at giving the patients the best available treatment at all times, being a dynamic entity. Fast-track combines evidence-based, clinical features with organizational optimization including a revision of traditions resulting in a streamlined pathway from admission till discharge – and beyond. The goal is to reduce morbidity, mortality and functional convalescence with an earlier achievement of functional milestones including functional discharge criteria with subsequent reduced length of stay and high patient satisfaction. Outcomes are traditionally measured as length of stay; safety aspects in the form of morbidity/mortality; patient satisfaction; and – as a secondary parameter – economic savings. Optimization of the clinical aspects include focusing on analgesia; DVT-prophylaxis; mobilization; care principles including functional discharge criteria; patient-characteristics to predict outcome; and traditions which may be barriers in optimizing outcomes. Patients should be informed and motivated to be active participants and their expectations should be modulated in order to improve satisfaction. Also, organizational aspects need to be analyzed and optimized. New logistical approaches should be implemented; the ward ideally (re)structured to only admit arthroplasties; the staff educated to have a uniform approach; extensive preoperative information given including discharge criteria and intended length of stay. This thesis includes 9 papers on clinical and organizational aspects of fast-track hip and knee arthroplasty (I–IX). A detailed description of the fast-track set-up and its components is provided. Major results include identification of patient characteristics to predict length of stay and satisfaction with different aspects of the hospital stay (I); how to optimize analgesia by using a compression bandage in total knee arthroplasty (II); the clinical and organizational set-up facilitating or acting as barriers for early discharge (III); safety aspects following fast-track in the form of few readmissions in general (IV) and few thromboembolic complications in particular (V); feasibility studies showing excellent outcomes following fast-track bilateral simultaneous total knee arthroplasty (VI) and non-septic revision knee arthroplasty (VII); how acute pain relief in total hip arthroplasty is not enhanced by the use of local infiltration analgesia when multi-modal opioid-sparing analgesia is given (VIII); and a detailed description of which clinical and organizational factors detain patients in hospital following fast-track hip and knee arthroplasty (IX). Economic savings following fast-track hip and knee arthroplasty is also documented in studies, reviews, metaanalyses and Cochrane reviews – including the present fast-track (ANORAK). In conclusion, the published results (I–IX) provide substantial, important new knowledge on clinical and organizational aspects of fast-track hip and knee arthroplasty – with concomitant documented high degrees of safety (morbidity/mortality) and patient satisfaction. Future research strategies are multiple and include both research strategies as efforts to implement the fast-track methodology on a wider basis. Research areas include improvements in pain treatment, blood saving strategies, fluid plans, reduction of complications, avoidance of tourniquet and concomitant blood loss, improved early functional recovery and muscle strengthening. Also, improvements in information and motivation of the patients, preoperative identification of patients needing special attention and detailed economic studies of fast- track are warranted.