Hip Replacement Improves Function and Saves Money

Photo: Right hip joint

Hip replacements are performed
when other forms of treatment
have failed. © Stephen Woods

Researchers found that total hip replacements provide a cost savings to the health care system because reimbursement for the procedure (averaging $4,000 - $6,000) proves less costly than the long-term cost of health care for the disabled. The study, which is the largest of its kind conducted to date, found that there is no age limit on the benefits of hip replacement for patients.

In addition to improved quality of life, health economists estimate savings associated with a year of a disability-free life at approximately $50,000, including all related health-care costs incurred by disabled patients such as hospital stays, nursing homes and home health care.

"We found that total hip arthroplasty improves everyday life for patients and is as beneficial to people in their 80s or 90s as it is for someone in their 60s," said Linda George, Ph.D., professor of Sociology and associate director of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging. "While the number of surgeries conducted in the U.S. has increased dramatically over the last decade, fewer than 25 percent of patients who could benefit from the procedure elect to receive it."

Patients who were disabled at the time of surgery had transitioned out of disability within one year of the procedure. Total hip replacement is an invasive treatment with a long rehabilitation period. According to Dr. George, this may help explain why physicians are less likely to present surgery as an option to those patients 85 years of age and older, and why there may be some reluctance among patients to choose the procedure.

"We know that hip replacements are relatively safe and reports have shown a very high rate of patient satisfaction due to reduced pain and increased range of motion," she added.

MEDICA.de; Source: InHealth - The Institute for Health Technology Studies