The prevalence of obesity is rising at alarming speeds across the United States.
Those living with this life-altering condition may be putting their long-term musculoskeletal function in jeopardy, according to findings released today at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
National estimates show about 33 to 35 percent of men and women are obese. Defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30, obesity puts a lot of unnecessary force on bones and joints, making the obese at risk for osteoarthritis and total joint replacement.
"As an orthopaedic surgeon practicing in a state where the obesity rate is 30 percent of its population," explained George Russell, MD, orthopaedic trauma surgeon, University of Mississippi Medical Center, "I first handedly have seen the challenges that arise when operating on obese patients."
In two similar studies, each by orthopaedic resident David J. Polga, MD, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, 133 patients undergoing total hip or knee replacements were assessed. Both studies concluded that total hip and knee replacements are feasible for the superobese (in this study, a BMI greater than 50), however, are associated with a high complication rate and encourage addressing the obesity prior to undertaking the elective joint replacement surgery.