The Seasonal Variability of Surgical Site Infections in Knee and Hip Arthroplasty


BACKGROUND: Surgical site infections (SSIs) after total knee (TKA) and total hip (THA) arthroplasty are devastating to patients and costly to healthcare systems. The purpose of this study is to investigate the seasonality of TKA and THA SSIs at a national level.

METHODS: All data were extracted from the National Readmission Database for 2013 and 2014. Patients were included if they had undergone TKA or THA. We modeled the odds of having a primary diagnosis of SSI as a function of discharge date by month, payer status, hospital size, and various patient co-morbidities. SSI status was defined as patients who were readmitted to the hospital with a primary diagnosis of SSI within 30 days of their arthroplasty procedure.

RESULTS: There were 760,283 procedures (TKA 424,104, THA 336,179) in our sample. Our models indicate that SSI risk was highest for patients discharged from their surgery in June and lowest for December discharges. For TKA, the odds of a 30-day readmission for SSI were 30.5% higher at the peak compared to the nadir time (95% confidence interval [CI] 20-42). For THA, the seasonal increase in SSI was 19% (95% CI 9-30). Compared to Medicare, patients with Medicaid as the primary payer had a 49% higher odds of 30-day SSI after TKA (95% CI 32-68).

CONCLUSION: SSIs following TKA and THA are seasonal peaking in summer months. Payer status was also a significant risk factor for SSIs. Future studies should investigate potential factors that could relate to the associations demonstrated in this study.

The Journal of Arthroplasty
Jacob Simmering
Jacob Simmering
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine

Health, data, and statistics.