WDEL's Delaware HealthWatch
with Frank Gerace

Knee Replacements/Medicare

Knee replacements, once rare, are now commonplace procedures, including among Medicare recipients.

Relatively recently, knee replacement surgery was new in the U.S., but now, an estimated 600,000 people have knee replacements and 30 to 60 thousand more undergo revision of their implants each year, according to Dr. Peter Cram with the University of Iowa's Carver School of Medicine.

Dr. Cram: "We're doing many more of these procedures today than we were twenty years ago. We're doing many more on the same fixed population."

Dr. Cram and his co-authors looked at data from more than 3-million Medicare patients who had primary knee replacements, and more than 300,000 who had knee revision procedures.

They found hospital stays were shorter, complication rates stable, and hospital readmission rates were up, and the number of surgeries was significantly higher.

Dr. Cram: "More than 100% increase between 1991 and 2010 in the volume of primary knee replacements. We found about 99% increase in the volume of revision knee replacements being performed."

The study's findings appeared recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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