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More Seniors Getting Knee Replacements

09/26/12

  04:05:06 pm, by MedBen5   , 229 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

More Seniors Getting Knee Replacements

As more and more Baby Boomers are entering their golden years, the number of body parts in need of major repair has shot up accordingly. So a new study showing that the number of knee replacements for Medicare enrollees have almosr doubled in the last two decades should come as little surprise.

The Associated Press reports that, per capita, about five knee surgeries were performed per 10,000 enrollees in 2010. In contrast, the surgery rate in 1991 was around three per 10,000.

Of the nearly 244,000 surgeries performed in 2010, almost 10% were follow-ups to replace worn-out replacement joints. The rising rate of redos coincided with the proportion of obese older patients getting their first operations – from 4% in 1991 to 12% in 2010. Excess weight is known to wear down joints faster and can contribute to arthritis, a leading reason for knee replacement surgery.

The obesity crisis isn’t the only reason for the increase, however. “There’s a huge percentage of older adults who are living longer and want to be active,” and knee replacement surgery is very effective, said lead author Dr. Peter Cram, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa.

The study also found that the average hospital stay fell from almost eight days to just 3.5 days, though many patients are now sent to outpatient rehab centers following their hospital release. Moreover, readmissions increased in recent years to address infections and surgery complications.

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