Number Of Joint Replacement Procedures, Revisions Increases

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The AP/Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday examined how the number of hip and knee replacements is "skyrocketing because they can successfully relieve pain and help people to walk normally again" and how the number of more complex and more expensive "revisions," or subsequent replacements, also has increased. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates that U.S. residents undergo more than 478,000 knee replacements annually, with the number expected to reach 3.4 million by 2030.

In addition, the academy estimates that residents undergo 234,000 total hip replacements annually, with the number expected to more than double by 2030. Residents underwent 40,000 knee revisions and 46,000 hip revisions in 2004, with the number of knee revisions expected to increase by seven times and the number of hip revisions expected to more than double by 2030, according to the academy.

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The academy estimates that a hip replacement on average costs $35,000, compared with $45,000 for a revision. According to the AP/Inquirer, revisions are not "always avoidable even with high-quality care," but "new research suggests that the type of joint replacement you choose and even your sex can play a role in whether you need a revision."

A study published last month in the journal PLoS Medicine found that one in 75 patients who undergo knee or hip replacements must undergo revisions and that the rate of revisions varies by procedure. In addition, "as people seeking new joints increasingly are younger, a second new study warns about what athletic activity patients should try after recovery," the Inquirer reports (Neergaard, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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