Knee replacement boom tied to obesity
In a recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, researchers reviewed 10 years worth of data on the volume of total knee replacements and total hip replacements and they found that rates are on the rise, especially in young adults. They also concluded that the increase in obesity accounted for 95 percent of the higher demand for knee replacements.
While previous studies have found a strong link between a higher body mass index (BMI) and osteoarthritis of the knee, other stats were unclear. In this study, researchers reviewed data from a past decade not only to see the volume of hip and knee replacements, but also the length of hospital stay, in-hospital mortality and orthopedic workforce trends.
The study’s findings showed that total knee replacements have outpaced total hip replacements for patients considered overweight or obese, but the same isn’t true for individuals in a lower BMI group. Also, from 1997 to 2009, patients ages 18 to 64 undergoing total knee replacement rose 56 percent, compared with only 35 percent for total hip replacement. Lastly, hospital reimbursement, length of hospital stay and in-hospital mortality pertaining to total knee and hip replacements comparably declined between 1995 and 2009.
Researchers say that if rates of overweight and obesity continue to climb, we should expect even greater acceleration in the number of knee replacements in the U.S. with a more modest increase in hip replacements.