Obese patients 'should not be denied knee replacements'

There is no justification for denying obese patients knee replacement surgery a new study has found.

In some parts of the UK, patients who are clinically obese are not allowed to undergo knee replacement surgery as obesity is a risk factor for knee osteoarthritis.

However, researchers at the Universities of Southampton, Bristol, Oxford and Keele have found no medical grounds for such a rule.

They found that patients with a body mass index (BMI) in excess of 30kg/m2 are able to benefit from knee replacement surgery to almost the same extent as normal-weight people.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, director of the MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre at Southampton, said that the long-term improvement in physical function found in patients who underwent knee surgery  was "striking" in comparison to the control group who did not receive surgery.

"These benefits extended to those patients who were clinically obese," he confirmed.

"Our results show that as long as appropriate selection criteria are applied with regard to fitness for surgery, there seems little justification for withholding the operation from patients who are obese."

The findings appear in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

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