AAOS: Soaring Demand for Joint Surgery May Not Be Met

Shortage of qualified surgeons may prevent many patients from receiving new hips and knees
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- The demand for hip or knee replacement surgery is quickly outpacing the ability of the orthopaedic community to supply it, and younger patients are accounting for a greater share of the demand, according to two studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) held Feb. 25 to 28 in Las Vegas.

In one study, Thomas K. Fehring, M.D., of the OrthoCarolina Hip and Knee Center in Charlotte, and colleagues used AAOS and U.S. Census data to create an economic supply and demand model for arthroplasty in 2016. They projected that there will be a demand for 427,500 total hip arthroplasties and 1,046,000 total knee arthroplasties. But they estimated that the workforce working at current rates will only be able to perform 231,071 hip arthroplasties and 287,759 knee arthroplasties, representing shortfalls of 46 percent and 72 percent, respectively.

In a second study, Steven M. Kurtz, Ph.D., of Exponent, Inc. in Philadelphia, and colleagues used Nationwide Inpatient Sample data to identify primary and revision arthroplasty performed between 1993 and 2006. They projected that patients under age 65 will account for more than 50 percent of the demand for total hip arthroplasty by 2011 and more than 50 percent of the demand for total knee arthroplasty by 2016.

"I was somewhat shocked at the shortfall that we predicted," Fehring said in a statement. "This is life-changing surgery, offering patients the chance to be mobile, and a very high percentage of patients may not be able to receive it."

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