Original Research

Evaluation of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Appropriate Use Criteria for the Nonarthroplasty Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis in Veterans

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Hinged or unloader knee braces were utilized in about half the study patients; this intervention was classified as rarely appropriate in 4.4% of these patients. Medical therapy was also widely used, with all use of NSAIDs, acetaminophen, and tramadol classified as appropriate or may be appropriate. Oral or transcutaneous opioid medications were prescribed in 14.3% of patients, with 92.3% of this use classified as rarely appropriate. Although the opioid medication prescribing provider was not specifically evaluated, there were no instances in which the orthopaedic service provided an oral or transcutaneous opioid prescriptions. Procedural interventions, with the exception of corticosteroid injections, were uncommon; no patient received realignment osteotomy, and only 12.1% of patients underwent arthroscopy. The use of arthroscopy was deemed rarely appropriate in 72.7% of these cases.

Factors Associated With AAOS AUC Intervention Use

There was no difference in the number of AAOS AUC evaluated interventions received based on BMI (mean [SD] BMI < 35, 5.2 [1.0] vs BMI ≥ 35, 5.3 [1.1], P = .49), age (mean [SD] aged < 60 years, 5.4 [1.0] vs aged ≥ 60 years, 5.1 [1.2], P = .23), or Kellgren-Lawrence arthritic grade (mean [SD] grade ≤ 2, 5.5 [1.0] vs grade > 2, 5.1 [1.1], P = .06). These variables also were not associated with receiving a rarely appropriate intervention (mean [SD] BMI < 35, 0.27 [0.5] vs BMI > 35, 0.2 [0.4], P = .81; aged > 60 years, 0.3 [0.5] vs aged < 60 years, 0.2 [0.4], P = .26; Kellgren-Lawrence grade < 2, 0.4 [0.6] vs grade > 2, 0.2 [0.4], P = .1).

Regression modeling to predict total number of AAOS AUC evaluated interventions received produced a significant model (R2 = 0.111, P = .006). The presence of ligamentous instability (β coefficient, -1.61) and the absence of mechanical symptoms (β coefficient, -0.67) were negative predictors of number of AUC interventions received. Variance inflation factors were 1.014 and 1.012, respectively. Likewise, regression modeling to identify factors predictive of receiving a rarely appropriate intervention also produced a significant model (pseudo R2= 0.06, P = .025), with lower Kellgren-Lawrence grade the only significant predictor of receiving a rarely appropriate intervention (odds ratio [OR] 0.54; 95% CI, 0.42 -0.72, per unit increase).

Timing from presentation to arthroplasty intervention was also evaluated. Age was a negative predictor (β coefficient -1.61), while positive predictors were reduced ROM (β coefficient 15.72) and having more AUC interventions (β coefficient 7.31) (model R2= 0.29, P = < .001). Age was the most significant predictor. Variance inflations factors were 1.02, 1.01, and 1.03, respectively. Receiving a rarely appropriate intervention was not associated with TKA timing.


This single-center retrospective study examined the utilization of AAOS AUC-evaluated nonarthroplasty interventions for symptomatic knee OA prior to TKA. The aims of this study were to validate the AAOS AUC in a clinical setting and identify predictors of AAOS AUC utilization. In particular, this study focused on the number of interventions utilized prior to knee arthroplasty, whether interventions receiving a designation of rarely appropriate were used, and the duration of nonarthroplasty treatment.

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