Obese patients should not be denied knee replacement surgery as they benefit nearly as much as the rest of the population, new research shows.
In some areas of England, knee surgery is only offered to patients who are not obese, meaning that morbidly obese patients who need a knee replacement may be forced to seek private treatment.
However, a new study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases suggests that the procedure provides long-term benefits, regardless of the patient's weight.
Researchers analysed 325 people for around six years after undergoing knee replacement surgery and compared their findings against data for 363 similar patients who had not undergone knee surgery.
They found that mobility improved among knee replacement recipients, but declined in those who did not have the procedure.
A person's BMI did not appear to have any impact on whether or not they experienced improvements.
The researchers said that the long-term benefits of knee replacement surgery were "striking" and noted: "These benefits extend to patients [who are obese] and, provided appropriate selection criteria are applied with regard to fitness for surgery, there seems no justification for withholding [knee replacement surgery] from patients who are obese."
Knee replacement surgery is usually performed on people with osteoarthritis and typically costs between £8,000 and £10,000 in a UK private hospital.