Prevalence, Risk Factors and Complications Associated with Hyponatraemia following Elective Primary Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

Emma Cunningham, Nicola Gallagher, Paul Hamilton, Leeann Bryce, David Beverland

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Hyponatraemia, defined as a serum sodium [Na] concentration below 135 mmol/L, is common following surgery. As inpatient peri-operative stays shorten, there is a need to recognise pre-operative risk factors for post-operative hyponatraemia and complications associated with a peri-operative drop in Na. This audit aimed to investigate the prevalence of, risk factors for, and complications associated with hyponatraemia following elective primary hip and knee arthroplasty.
Data were collected within a retrospective audit of inpatient complications and unplanned reattendance or readmission at hospital in consecutive elective primary hip and knee arthroplasty patients in a single high throughput elective primary joint unit. The hospital’s electronic database identified 1000 patients who were admitted electively between February 2012 and June 2013 under the care of a single consultant orthopaedic surgeon for either total hip arthroplasty, total knee arthroplasty, or uni-compartmental knee arthroplasty. Groups were compared using appropriate tests, including chi-square analysis (or Fisher’s exact test), Mann-Whitney U test, Kruskal-Wallis test, and Wilcoxin signed-rank test. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine factors associated with hyponatraemia.
Of the total 1000 patients, 217 (21.7%) developed post-operative hyponatraemia. Of these, 177 (81.6%) had mild (Na 130–134 mmol/L), 37 (17.1%) had moderate (Na 125–129 mmol/L), and 3 (1.4%) had severe (Na < 125 mmol/L) hyponatraemia. In multivariate analysis, age, pre-operative Na, and fasting glucose on day 1 remained significantly associated with having hyponatraemia post-operatively. There were no significant differences in reattendance at emergency departments and/or readmission within 90 days between those who had post-operative hyponatraemia whilst in hospital (39/217 = 18.0%) and those who did not (103/783 = 13.2%), or between those who were discharged with hyponatraemia (18/108 = 16.7%) and those discharged with normal Na (124/880 = 14.1%
Approximately one fifth of elective joint arthroplasty patients had post-operative hyponatraemia. In these patients, older age, lower pre-operative Na and higher fasting glucose predicted post-operative hyponatraemia. We found no evidence that those discharged with hyponatraemia had more reattendance at emergency departments or readmission to hospital. We suggest that otherwise well patients with mild hyponatraemia can safely be discharged and followed up in the community.
Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalPerioperative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 03 Aug 2021


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