Orthopedic Surgery and Parkinson’s Disease: A Pilot Study

Please read our recent October 2015 publication.  Do individuals with Parkinson’s Disease experience negative outcomes after electing total knee replacement surgery or back surgery?  We attempted to address this question.  The study was challenging to conduct.  Conclusion:  We need to conduct multi-center investigations on this topic in order to improve care for individuals with Parkinson’s disease electing orthopedic surgery.


J Parkinsons Dis. 2015 Oct 17;5(4):893-905. doi: 10.3233/JPD-150632.

Orthopedic Surgery and Post-Operative Cognitive Decline in Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease: Considerations from a Pilot Study.

Post-operative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) demarks cognitive decline after major surgery but has been studied to date in “healthy” adults. Although individuals with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) commonly undergo elective surgery, these individuals have yet to be prospectively followed despite hypotheses of increased POCD risk. To conduct a pilot study examining cognitive change pre-post elective orthopedic surgery for PD relative to surgery and non-surgery peers. A prospective one-year longitudinal design. No-dementia idiopathic PD individuals were actively recruited along with non-PD “healthy” controls (HC) undergoing knee replacement surgery. Non-surgical PD and HC controls were also recruited. Attention/processing speed, inhibitory function, memory recall, animal (semantic) fluency, and motor speed were assessed at baseline (pre-surgery), 3 weeks, 3 months, and 1 year post- orthopedic surgery. Reliable change methods examined individual changes for PD individuals relative to control surgery and control non-surgery peers. Over two years we screened 152 older adult surgery or non-surgery candidates with 19 of these individuals having a diagnosis of PD. Final participants included 8 PD (5 surgery, 3 non-surgery), 47 Control Surgery, and 21 Control Non-Surgery. Eighty percent (4 of the 5) PD surgery declined greater than 1.645 standard deviations from their baseline performance on measures assessing processing speed and inhibitory function. This was not observed for the non-surgery PD individuals.  This prospective pilot study demonstrated rationale and feasibility for examining cognitive decline in at-risk neurodegenerative populations. We discuss recruitment and design challenges for examining post-operative cognitive decline in neurodegenerative samples.