Despite the excellent functional outcomes and long-term implant survivorship that have been reported with primary TKA [2
], TKA failure and revision TKA remain substantial clinical challenges for orthopaedic surgeons and their patients. Furthermore, despite continual changes in surgical technique and implant design, the revision TKA burden (eg, the percentage of revision TKA cases as a function of all TKA cases) in the United States has not decreased over time [3
]. Understanding the causes of TKA failure and types of TKA procedures performed are essential to improving implant performance and long-term patient outcomes. We therefore: (1) identified the indications for revision TKA; (2) determined revision TKA procedure frequencies; (3) evaluated adoption and usage of the newly adopted ICD-9-CM diagnosis and procedure codes related to revision TKA; (4) assessed age, gender, race, payor type and US Census Region of revision TKA patients; and (5) ascertained length of stay and total charge by type of revision TKA procedure.
Our findings are limited by a relatively short time period of data collection, and uncertain compliance and accuracy of coding related to both the diagnosis/cause of failure and the type of revision procedure performed. However, the administrative codes used in this study are currently being used by governmental and nongovernmental public reporting agencies to compare failure rates and revision rates among surgeons and hospitals. Therefore, it is important for the surgeon community to be aware of strengths and limitations of this data, and the importance of detailed clinical documentation in order to improve the accuracy and clinical relevance of administrative codes related to TKA failure and revision TKA. Further study will be necessary to determine if our findings persist in larger data sets encompassing longer time periods.
Although our results represent only the early experience with the new ICD-9 diagnosis and procedure codes over a relatively short time period (15 months), the large number of procedures (over 60,000) included in our analysis provides unique and previously unavailable insight into the current causes of revision TKA procedures in a wide variety of care delivery settings throughout the entire United States. Since the existing literature contains limited information regarding the causes of TKA failure in large populations, it is difficult to compare our findings to those of previous investigators. Sharkey et al. [26
] reported that polyethylene wear, aseptic loosening, and instability were the most common causes of revision TKA in a series of 203 consecutive revision TKAs performed over a 3-year period at a single institution. Other investigators [8
] have implicated aseptic loosening, polyethylene wear, osteolysis, pain, stiffness, and instability as common causes of TKA failure. However, similar to the findings of Fehring et al. [6
] and Vessely et al. [28
], both of whom reported infection as a frequent mode of TKA failure, our data indicate that prosthetic joint infection is currently the most common indication for revision TKA in the United States. This is particularly concerning, especially given the substantial resources required to treat prosthetic joint infections, and the relatively poor patient outcomes that have been reported with both single- and two-stage revision TKA for infection compared with the results of revision TKA for aseptic causes of failure [1
]. As the number of primary TKA procedures performed in the next two decades is expected to rise exponentially [14
], increased resources should be devoted to research investigation and product development focused on prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of prosthetic joint infection.
The newly implemented ICD-9-CM diagnosis and procedure codes related to revision TKA provide valuable insight into the cause of failure and type of revision TKA procedure performed. Our analysis suggests that adoption of the new revision TKA-related ICD-9-CM procedure codes (by hospital administrative coding personnel) and diagnosis codes (by surgeons) is relatively high, but could be improved with additional education and training regarding the appropriate use of these new codes. Specifically, it appears that some of the codes may be ambiguous as currently defined, (eg, ICD-9 diagnosis code 996.43, “implant failure/breakage”), which may be creating some confusion among both clinicians and coding personnel. Also, inadequate clinical documentation may have accounted for the relatively large percentage of cases (15.4%) that were coded as “other mechanical complications.” Furthermore, it is possible that certain isolated tibial liner exchange procedures are being incorrectly coded by hospital coding personnel as tibial component revisions, which could be artificially inflating the prevalence of tibial component revision procedures in administrative databases. The value of these new administrative diagnosis and procedure codes in terms of understanding the cause of TKA failure and monitoring trends in failure rates and specific types of revision procedures will be dependent on a clear understanding of the description and the intended meaning of each code, detailed and unambiguous clinical documentation, and appropriate use of the new codes when submitting administrative claims related to revision TKA procedures. The validity of the administrative claims data is expected to improve as surgeons and administrative coding personnel become more familiar with their definitions and appropriate usage.
Although useful information related to TKA failures can be derived from clinical case series and cohort studies, our study illustrates the value of large administrative databases in evaluating the epidemiology of revision TKA in a large population. However, although the newly implemented ICD-9-CM diagnosis and procedure codes reviewed in this study would provide valuable data elements for a U.S. Joint Replacement Registry, they should not be considered an acceptable substitute for a true TJR registry, as they lack essential information regarding the specific implants used in a procedure, and other important clinical and demographic information. As experience is gained with the new ICD-9-CM diagnosis and procedure codes related to revision TKA, valuable insight will be gained into TKA failure mechanisms, which may help guide future research, implant design, and clinical decision making related to total knee arthroplasty.