Vitamin D Deficiency Widespread Among Patients Undergoing Orthopedic Surgery

Almost 50% of patients undergoing orthopedic surgery have vitamin D deficiency that should be corrected before surgery to improve patient outcomes, based on a study by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City.

“In the perfect world, we would test levels, fix and then operate,” Joseph Lane, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery and chief of the Metabolic Bone Disease Service at HSS, stated in a press release. “If you put people on 2,000 to 4,000 [milligrams] of vitamin D based on what their deficient value was, you can usually get them corrected in 4 to 6 weeks, which is when you are really going to need the vitamin D. If you are aggressive right before surgery, you can correct deficient levels quickly, but you have to correct it, measure it and then act on it.”

For the study, investigators conducted a retrospective chart review of 723 patients who were scheduled for orthopedic surgery between January 2007 and March 2008 at HSS. They examined the vitamin D levels, which had been measured in all patients before their surgery, and found that 43% had insufficient vitamin D and 40% had deficient levels.

The highest levels of deficiency were seen in patients in the trauma service, where 66% of patients had insufficient levels and 52% had deficient levels. Of the patients undergoing foot and ankle surgery, 34% had inadequate levels. Of patients undergoing hand surgery, 40% had insufficient levels.

“The take home message is that low vitamin D has an implication in terms of muscle and fracture healing, it occurs in about 50% of people coming in for orthopedic surgery, and it is eminently correctable,” Lane stated. “We recommend that people undergoing a procedure that involves the bone or the muscle should correct their vitamin D if they want to have an earlier faster, better, result.”

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