Foot & Ankle Orthopaedics (2020-10-01)

Impact of Postoperative Complications on Fulfillment of Expectations after Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgery

  • Bopha Chrea MD,
  • Jensen K. Henry MD,
  • Jonathan Day MS,
  • Andrew R. Roney BA,
  • Elizabeth Cody MD,
  • Scott J. Ellis MD

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 5


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Category: Other Introduction/Purpose: Fulfillment of patients’ expectations following foot and ankle surgery has been previously studied and validated in assessing patient-reported outcomes (PROs). While this assessment has been shown to correlate well with patient satisfaction and PROs, the impact of postoperative complications on fulfillment of expectations is unknown. The aim of this study is to therefore investigate the impact of postoperative complications on fulfillment of patients’ expectations. Methods: Preoperatively, patients completed a validated Foot and Ankle expectations survey consisting of 23 questions encompassing domains including pain, ambulation, daily function, exercise, and shoe wear. At 2 years postoperatively, patients answered how much improvement they received for each item cited preoperatively. A fulfillment proportion (FP) was calculated as the amount of improvement received versus the amount of improvement expected. The FP ranges from 0 (no expectations fulfilled), between 0 and 1 (expectations partially fulfilled), 1 (expectations met), to greater than 1 (expectations surpassed). In addition, patient-reported outcomes (FAOS), satisfaction, and Delighted-Terrible scale (how they would feel if asked to spend the rest of their life with their current foot/ankle symptom) were collected at final follow-up. Chart review was performed to identify patient demographics, comorbidities, pain management, and postoperative complications, which were classified as minor (infection requiring antibiotics) or major (unplanned return to OR, reoperation, or revision). Results: Of the 271 patients (mean age 55.4 years, 65% female), 31 (11.4%, mean age 53.6, 58% female) had a postoperative complication; 27 major (17 revisions, 10 removal of hardware due to pain/infection) and 6 minor (6 superficial infections requiring antibiotics). Complications were associated with significantly worse FP (0.69 +- 0.45 vs 0.86 +- 0.40, p=0.02). Average time from complication to completion of fulfillment survey was 15 (+-3.6) months. Having a complication significantly correlated with worse satisfaction, Delighted-Terrible scale, and FP (p<0.001). FAOS domains were similar preoperatively; postoperatively patients without complications had significantly higher ADL and QoL scores (p<0.05). Demographically, there was no difference in age, sex, BMI, Charlson Comorbidity Index, depression/anxiety, or pain management between the two groups. The groups were similar in diagnoses. Conclusion: Our data suggests that postoperative complications following foot and ankle surgery are associated with worse patient-reported fulfillment of their surgical expectations. This finding is independent of preoperative expectations, and correlates with several validated outcomes measures including patient satisfaction. Therefore, while patient fulfillment following foot and ankle surgery is multifactorial, the importance of preoperative education and counselling for potential complications should not be overlooked.