Beta-Blocker Prophylaxis for Total Knee Arthroplasty Patients: A Case Series


Cardiac complications are an infrequent yet undesirable cause of morbidity and mortality following total knee arthroplasty. Perioperative prophylaxis with beta-blocker medication has been shown to reduce in-hospital cardiac deaths in noncardiac surgical patients. This study evaluated the safety and in-hospital cardiac complications of a consecutive cohort of 267 total knee arthroplasties in patients who followed a perioperative beta-blocker prophylaxis institutional protocol. The patients were categorized into three groups: A, already on a beta-blocker; B, beta-blocker prescribed by orthopaedic surgeon; and C, not given the medication. The 90-day mortality and in-hospital cardiac complications were evaluated. Of the patients who had 267 procedures, 203 (76%) received beta-blocker prophylaxis perioperatively: 110 (41.2%) were already on the medication preoperatively, 93 (34.8%) were prescribed the medication by the surgeon, and 64 (24%) did not receive this medication. There were no deaths within the first 90 days. There were two nonfatal myocardial infarctions (0.7%) and six other cardiac complications (2.2%).With a beta-blocker prophylaxis protocol implemented by one surgeon, 76% of total knee arthroplasty patients were given the medication and it was prescribed in 34.8% by the orthopaedic surgeon. In-hospital cardiac complications were low. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 19(3):162–165, 2010)

Kathryn A. Heim, MD, Mark P. Lachiewicz, MD, Elizabeth S. Soileau, BSN,
and Paul F. Lachiewicz, MD