The Management of Perioperative Immunosuppressant Medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis During Elective Hand Surgery

Kevin M. Klifto, Brian H. Cho, Scott D. Lifchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a destructive inflammatory disease that commonly involves joints of the hand and wrist. Different recommendations exist for continuing or discontinuing immunosuppressant medications during the perioperative time period. The purpose of our study was to determine whether continuing or discontinuing medications (steroids, nonbiological, and/or biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs [DMARDs]) were associated with an increased or decreased risk of postoperative complications. Methods: We performed a single-center, retrospective review of a cohort of RA patients who had elective hand surgery by a single surgeon. Patients were included if they had a documented diagnosis of seropositive RA by a rheumatologist and had elective hand surgery and/or a disease-related surgical procedure involving the upper extremity between January 2008 and August 2018. We stratified patients into different groups for comparison by classes of immunosuppressant medications for managing RA. These classes included corticosteroids, nonbiological DMARDs, biological DMARDs, and/or no medications. Immunosuppressant medications were then compared with no medications for the incidence of postoperative overall complications. Results: Eighty-eight patients had elective hand and/or upper extremity surgeries for RA. Mean patient age at the time of surgery (± SD) was 55 ± 13 years (range, 24–74 years). Of these 88 patients, 8 (9%) overall complications occurred. Complications were wound healing failures (n = 5), tendon rupture (n = 1), hematoma (n = 1), and surgical-site infection (n = 1). Perioperative medications included steroids (n = 31), nonbiological DMARDs (n = 68), biological DMARDs (n = 5), and no medication (n = 27). There were no significant differences in overall complications between patients on immunosuppressant medications and those on no medications. Median (interquartile range) follow-up was 11.5 months (5–25.8) (range, 2–74 months). Conclusions: We found that patients who continued or discontinued medications within 1 dosing interval of their usual dose perioperatively had similar rates of complications following elective hand surgery. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779.e1-779.e6
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Antirheumatic
  • biologics
  • rheumatoid
  • surgery
  • wrist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The Management of Perioperative Immunosuppressant Medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis During Elective Hand Surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this