Conference Coverage

VIDEO: Biologics: Proposed guideline addresses perioperative management



– Biologic agents should be stopped prior to elective total knee or hip arthroplasty in patients with rheumatic diseases, according to a draft guideline developed by the American College of Rheumatology and the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.

The guideline, which address the perioperative management of antirheumatic medications in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), or lupus who are undergoing such surgery, is currently under review, Dr. Susan Goodman, MD, coprincipal investigator, reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

The draft guideline was created because “guidance was needed for common clinical situations, even where data were sparse. We didn’t want to configure treatment mandates – that’s not what these are,” Dr. Goodman of Cornell University, New York, said.

The recommendations are conditional, she said, meaning that the benefits probably outweigh the harms, that the recommendations apply to most but not all patients, and that future research may lead to changes.

“They’re also preference sensitive,” she said, explaining that patients’ values and preferences should be carefully considered, as they might differ from those of the patient panel consulted during guideline development; the panel expressed greater concern about the risk of infection following surgery than about perioperative flares resulting from medication discontinuation.

Based on agreement by at least 80% of a voting panel which considered available evidence in the context of their clinical experience along with the input from the patient panel, the draft guideline states that:

• Current doses of methotrexate, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, and sulfasalazine should be continued in patients with rheumatic diseases undergoing elective hip and knee replacement. This recommendation is based on an extensive literature review that showed the infection rate is decreased in patients who continue these medications, Dr. Goodman said.

• All biologics should be withheld prior to surgery in patients with inflammatory arthritis, and surgery should be planned for the end of the dosing cycle. This matter wasn’t specifically addressed in the literature; however, numerous randomized controlled trials outside of the surgical setting demonstrate an increased risk of infection associated with their use, she noted.

“All of the biologic medications were found to be associated with an increased risk of infection,” she said. “Because of this and the level of importance patients place on minimizing infection risk, we’ve recommended that biologics be withheld prior to surgery.”

• Tofacitinib, which was considered in a separate oral, targeted therapy category, should be withheld for at least 7 days prior to surgery in patients with RA, spondyloarthritis, and JIA. Data from systematic reviews and meta-analyses showed an increased risk of infection with tofacitinib, although more research is needed in order to “firm up” this recommendation, Dr. Goodman said.

• In lupus patients, rituximab and belimumab should be withheld prior to surgery, and surgery should be planned for the end of the dosing period.

“Again, this was not answered in the literature. We depended on observational studies that we reviewed that did show that patients with severe active lupus were at much higher risk for adverse events. But since rituximab isn’t approved by the [Food and Drug Administration] for use in lupus, and belimumab isn’t approved for use in severe lupus – and those seem to be the high-risk patients – we thought withholding them was more prudent,” she said.

• Patients with severe lupus should continue on current doses of methotrexate, mycophenolic acid, azathioprine, mizoribine, cyclosporine, and tacrolimus through surgery. This recommendation is based on indirect data from experience in organ transplant patients.

• All medications should be discontinued in patients whose lupus is not severe.

“Our recommendation is to withhold for 7 days to 2-5 days after surgery in the absence of any wound healing complications or any other complications,” she said, noting that the literature does not directly address this; the recommendation is based on indirect evidence in patients with either active infection or who are at risk for infection.

“We thought that careful monitoring of the patient would permit us to identify flare and intervene quickly. … and that, for mild cases of lupus, the morbidity associated with infection might not be greater than the morbidity associated with the disease flare,” she said.

• Biologics should be restarted once surgical wounds show evidence of healing and there is no clinical evidence of infection. The literature does not directly address this; the recommendation is based on the rationale for use of these medications in patients with either active infection or risk for infection.

• Current daily doses of glucocorticoids, rather than supraphysiologic doses, should be continued in adults with RA, lupus, or inflammatory arthritis. A meta-analysis and systematic review of randomized controlled trial data and observational data showed no hemodynamic difference between daily doses and stress doses.


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