Do hip OA patients referred to orthopedic surgeons by general practitioners and rheumatologists differ?
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There is no consensus regarding indications for total hip arthroplasty (THA) in hip osteoarthritis (OA). Patients can be referred to surgeons either by a general practitioner (GP) or a rheumatologist. The aim of this study was to determine whether patients referred to orthopedic surgeons by GP and rheumatologists differed. GPs and rheumatologists were asked to include one patient suffering from hip OA for whom a consultation with a surgeon was planned to determine if THA was indicated. Surgeons’ decisions were obtained by follow-up questionnaires. Univariate and then multivariate statistical analysis evaluated differences between patients referred by GPs and those referred by rheumatologists. A total of 558 patients were included. THA was prescribed in 71.6 % of patients referred by rheumatologists vs. 57.6 % of patients referred by GPs (p = 0.008). Patients referred by rheumatologists were younger (66.3 vs. 69.3 years; p = 0.006), less frequently retired (72.9 vs. 84.2 %; p = 0.007), and presented with a higher New Zealand score (54.3 vs. 48.1; p = 0.0009). On multivariate analysis, the variables related to patients referred by rheumatologists were the SF-12 mental score, the New Zealand score, and the surgeon’s decision. Patients consulting a surgeon to discuss THA were more likely to be operated on when referred by a rheumatologist, which might be due to differences in the rheumatologists’ and GPs’ opinions on the right time to perform surgery or due to differences in the populations followed by rheumatologists and GPs, those followed by rheumatologists being younger, more active, more urban, with a greater willingness to undergo surgery.