A new study looking at racial and ethnic disparities in total knee replacement (TKR) surgery suggests that minorities tend to be less likely to undergo the surgery, but experience more postsurgical complications when they do so.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded study was published recently in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

The study analyzed data from 8 years (2001 to 2008) in eight racially diverse states (Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Florida), totaling 547,380 patients who underwent TKR. The patients’ races were categorized by the State Inpatient Databases (SID) as white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and mixed race.

The three largest ethnic groups among the TKR patients analyzed, per the SID data, were whites (87.24%), blacks (5.88%) and Hispanics (4.20%) and the smallest were Asians (0.46%), Native Americans (0.51%) and mixed race (1.71%), according to a media release from The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

The study excluded patients under 45 years of age and patients who underwent TKR for a congenital dislocation, infection, or a neoplasm—a new and abnormal growth of tissue that replaces healthy tissue.

Per the release, the researchers note the following results:

In comparison to the white population, minorities had lower rates of TKR utilization; minorities were less likely to undergo TKR in high-volume hospitals; and the risk for in-hospital mortality, and the complication rate following TKR, were significantly higher for blacks, Native Americans, and mixed-race individuals.

“Even after adjusting for certain patient demographics, socioeconomic status, and health care system characteristics, significant racial disparities in TKR utilization and outcomes exist,” says Yan Ma, PhD, associate professor in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University and the study’s corresponding author, in the release.

“These findings create an opportunity for health care providers to consider differences in utilization and outcomes that may result directly from their referral patterns,” Ma adds.

[Source(s): The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, PR Newswire]