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Total Knee Replacement Rates Have Soared in UK
June 22, 2004
By Diana Barnes Brown for Knee1
Research recently conducted at Bristol University’s Department of Social Medicine and published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases shows that the number of total knee replacement surgeries in the UK has more than doubled in just ten years, and also that economic class influences whether or not a person will opt for replacement over more conservative therapies.
Researchers analyzed hospital treatment statistics in England between the years of 1991 and 2000. They found that hip replacements had increased by 18%, while secondary surgery to revise the procedure were more than twice as frequent as they had been. But even more surprising was the fact of doubled primary knee replacement surgeries, and tripled secondary or “revision” surgeries.
Primary knee replacement surgery was more common in women, and also in people between 65 and 79 years of age. Also, the 20% percent of the population that had the least economic means had fewer knee replacements – a noteworthy 20% fewer per 1000 persons – than their wealthier counterparts.
The authors of the study speculated that the increase in surgery may be in part due to the trend to opt for surgery earlier in life, leading to more wear and tear at an earlier age, and more years of walking ahead, for which the knees must be functional. They also noted that current trends indicate knee replacements will become more common than hip replacements, and will rise by another 63% by the year 2010.
Total knee replacement refers to the replacement of the entire knee joint with an artificial joint, or a number of artificial replacements for damaged structures within the joint. The replacement knee structures are joined to the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone), after the ends of each bone are removed. The patella (kneecap) may also be replaced. The replacement knee, though are not as effective as its natural counterpart, typically allows patients who experience chronic pain and difficulty walking to return to more normal daily activities.
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