Joint arthroplasty is a particularly complex orthopaedic surgical procedure performed on joints, including the hip, knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, wrist and even digit joints. Increasing evidence from volume–outcomes research supports the finding that patients undergoing joint arthroplasty in high-volume hospitals or by high-volume surgeons achieve better outcomes, and minimum case load requirements have been established in some areas. However, the relationships between hospital/surgeon volume and outcomes in patients undergoing arthroplasty are not fully understood. Furthermore, whether elective arthroplasty should be restricted to high-volume hospitals or surgeons remains in dispute, and little is known regarding where the thresholds should be set for different types of joint arthroplasties.
This is a protocol for a suite of systematic reviews and dose–response meta-analyses, which will be amended and updated in conjunction with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Protocols. Electronic databases, including PubMed and Embase, will be searched for observational studies examining the relationship between the hospital or surgeon volume and clinical outcomes in adult patients undergoing primary or revision of joint arthroplasty. We will use records management software for study selection and a predefined standardised file for data extraction and management. Quality will be assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, and the meta-analysis, subgroup analysis and sensitivity analysis will be performed using Stata statistical software. Once the volume–outcome relationships are established, we will examine the potential non-linear relationships between hospital/surgeon volume and outcomes and detect whether thresholds or turning points exist.
Ethical approval is not required, because these studies are based on aggregated published data. The results of this suite of systematic reviews and meta-analyses will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication.