Knee Replacements on the Rise

Primary Care Blog

According to a new study in JAMA, knee replacement surgery could reach 3.5 million a year by 2030 in the United States.  Wonder why health costs are rising?  We have new expensive technology that improves quality of life but may also break the Medicare bank!

The study showed that the number of knee surgeries performed more than doubled from 1991 to 2010.  Fortunately, length of stay in the hospital (a major driver of cost) decreased from 7.9 days to 3.5 days.  In the 90's more patients were discharged to institutions for  rehab and now patients are discharged to home with home health services.

The researchers attribute the potential increase in demand to aging baby boomers and a rise in conditions that contribute to arthritis - namely obesity.  Also there are more trained orthopedic surgeons that perform the surgery and it is becoming more mainstream.

Total knee replacement (TKR) will be a key driver of health care costs in the future.  Many studies have demonstrated that TKR is cost-effective because it improves patients' activity and health-related quality of life.

The total cost for TKR in the United States (including hospital, pre-op tests, medical supplies, OR fee, Xrays and physician fees) runs between $35K - $60K.  For best results, patients should find a surgeon that specializes in TKR and runs a "focus factory" with strict protocols and a comprehensive treatment team for quick ambulation and rehabilitation.

This blog was originally posted on EverythingHealth