A computerized database was established for all total joint replacements done at the authors' institution. To date the registry contains information on more than 56,000 arthroplasties of which more than 30,000 involve the hip. The registry was designed to determine the effectiveness of total hip arthroplasty as a function of implant design, surgical technique, and patient selection. Furthermore, by maintaining and updating the patient record, data regarding success or anticipated failure could be communicated to the patient. Finally, this resource would provide reliable information that could be communicated to the orthopedic community. Patients are routinely evaluated at 1, 2, and 5 years postoperatively and at 5-year intervals thereafter by examination or letter or telephone questionnaire. Followup of patients at each interval is approximately 95%. Patients are more likely to respond by questionnaire (rather than be seen in person) if they are older, if a longer time has elapsed since surgery, or if they live a long distance from the clinic. Data are collected by five full time employees including computer and statistical support specifically assigned to the project. The annual joint registry budget is in excess of $400,000. Unfortunately, the future of this endeavor is challenged by the needs to: (1) show cost effectiveness of the activity; (2) update and validate outcomes instruments used as input into the database; and (3) maintain satisfactory followup rates in a medical economic environment that often discourages patient return visits or local assessment.
Orthopedic Department, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.