GLP-1 Drugs Found to Improve Joint Replacement Outcomes

Nationwide, over 1.3 million patients undergo a knee or hip replacement each year*. These procedures are widely considered to be some of the safest and most effective treatments in any area of medicine. But complications like infections are still possible.

Maimonides Bone & Joint Center, Brooklyn’s premier and largest orthopedic center, is the only hospital in New York City to receive the America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Orthopedic Surgery Award™ for the past three  years. Our center develops and implements innovative strategies to reduce complications and enhance outcomes in joint replacement surgeries.

Far-Reaching Effects of GLP-1 Drugs as Popularity Rises 

Patients who undergo these procedures frequently have multiple comorbidities. Finding new ways to treat these medical problems prior to surgery may boost long-term results, says Matthew Magruder, MD, a Maimonides third-year orthopedic surgery resident. To explore the effect the medication can have, he recently examined the impact of the GLP-1 agonist semaglutide on the success of these surgeries.

Semaglutide is an anti-diabetic drug that directly treats type 2 diabetes and helps patients lose weight. As a result, it can be useful with joint replacements because obesity and diabetes are the two most common comorbidities seen in patients who need these procedures.

“Obesity and diabetes put our patients who need joint replacements at increased risk of almost every complication, particularly infections. And infections are exceptionally devastating after joint replacements, potentially leading to multiple other surgeries and a similar five-year survival rate to many cancers,” Dr. Magruder says. “With 40 percent of the United States’ population being obese, figuring out tools to minimize this risk for our patients is critical.”

With use of semaglutide medications surging in recent years, research can help physicians and surgeons understand its safety and efficacy for patients who get joint replacements, he says.

Evaluating GLP-1 Effects After Hip and Knee Replacement 

To answer these questions, Dr. Magruder conducted two studies. One assessed the impact of semaglutide in patients who underwent hip replacements, and a second study focused on patients with knee replacements.

In these retrospective studies, Dr. Magruder and his team evaluated 90-day post-operative outcomes for patients who had joint replacements due to osteoarthritis. The results of their assessments were positive.

“We found that patients who took semaglutide had significantly lower readmissions and prosthetic joint infections following hip replacements, and they needed fewer revisions,” he says. “This is a powerful finding. It’s an important jumping-off point for future studies, and it also gives providers some preliminary evidence that the medication may help patients lose weight or better control their diabetes when they’re facing joint replacements.”

Dr. Magruder shared these findings as poster presentations during conferences for the American Academy for Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Influencing Future Research  

The results of these studies have opened the door to further investigative efforts. Dr. Magruder and other Maimonides researchers are now looking at the role semaglutide may play in other surgeries.

“Our Orthopedics department has published a similar study with spine lumbar fusions,” he says. “We’re also launching a trend study that will examine patient outcomes in the top 10 most common orthopedic surgeries. We’ll look at what percentage of these patients were taking semaglutide and what their outcomes have been. To my knowledge, this is a unique study.”

As a next step, Dr. Magrudger says he hopes to conduct a comparison study that assesses the efficacy and safety of two GLP-1 agonist medications.

“I want to examine different medications that have the same delivery mechanism but that are produced by different companies,” he says. “I want to uncover which one performs better so we can potentially help patients make the most informed decisions about medications when they’re facing joint replacement surgeries in the future.”

Recognized for Excellence 

As the only orthopedic center in New York City to earn Healthgrades’ Orthopedic Surgery Excellence Award in 2022, 2023 and 2024, one of only two institutions in New York City to be recognized withHealthgrades’ Orthopedic Surgery Excellence award,andone ofAmerica’s 100 Best Hospitals for Orthopedic Surgery, Maimonides Bone & Joint Center is renowned for advanced patient care. The multidisciplinary team of orthopedic providers delivers a wide range of evidence-based treatments at each of the hospital’s six locations across the borough. Their work has earned the hospital five stars for hip fracture treatment for the past four years.

But it’s Maimonides’ robust, forward-thinking research program that sets its orthopedics care apart, Dr. Magruder says.

“The Orthopedics team embraces residents interested in research and allows them to be extremely productive. It’s very easy for residents to get involved and learn the skills necessary for investigative work,” he says. “The Maimonides orthopedic residency is unlike any other program. It gives residents the opportunity to work with various faculty members and take the reins of projects. As a result, we gain excellent experience.”

Ultimately, Dr. Magruder says he hopes the unique clinical and research atmosphere at Maimonides will pave the way for additional efforts to explore how semaglutide affects orthopedic care.

“I hope this puts us on a new path and in a new direction of using semaglutide as a tool,” he says. “We are all looking for ways to minimize the risk of serious complications after joint replacement. And my study — and every study that follows — will be a big step forward.”

Learn more about hip replacement surgery at Maimonides Bone & Joint Center or call (718) 283-7400 to refer a patient.


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