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Mortality, Cost and Health Outcomes of Total Knee Arthroplasty in Medicare Patients


February 29, 2012

Exponent scientists recently presented the findings of their study on mortality, cost, and health outcomes of total knee arthroplasty in Medicare patients, at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ 2012 Annual Meeting.

In the study of Medicare records, Exponent scientists Scott Lovald, Edmund Lau, Kevin Ong, Steven M. Kurtz, and Jordana K. Schmier, examined the effects of joint replacement among nearly 135,000 patients with new diagnoses of osteoarthritis of the knee from 1997 to 2009. About 54,000 opted for knee replacement; 81,000 did not. Three years after diagnosis, the knee replacement patients had an 11 percent lower risk of heart failure. And after seven years, their risk of dying for any reason was 50 percent lower.

The theory behind knee replacement, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Scott Lovald, Senior Associate at Exponent, is that it improves quality of life. “At the end of the day, we’re trying to figure out if quantity of life increases as well,” he added, noting that the team was conducting a similar review of Medicare data on the long-term benefits of hip replacement surgery.

“These patients had improved survivorship and reduced risk for cardiovascular conditions,” said Scott Lovald, PhD, MBA, lead investigator and senior associate at Exponent, Inc. “For an incremental cost of less than $3,000 per year, total knee replacement may reduce the risk of mortality by half.” 

For more information, you can download the recent NY Times article with an interview with Dr. Lovald.