Total Joint Replacement: Tackling a Growing Epidemic

Will There Be Enough Orthopaedic Total Joint Surgeons to Keep Up With Demand?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - March 6, 2008) - The numbers of hip and knee replacement surgeries have skyrocketed in the last 10 years. The growth and aging of the population, particularly baby boomers, and improved diagnosis and treatment options will continue to critically influence those numbers. Richard Iorio, MD, senior attending orthopaedic surgeon at the Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts, said, "We are preparing for an epidemic of serious proportions."

According to a new study by Dr. Iorio and his colleagues to be presented at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS):

-- In 2005, 285,000 total hip replacements and 523,000 total knee replacements were performed in the United States.

-- By 2030, these two procedures are expected to jump to 572,000 and 3.4 million, respectively.

These figures represent a 101 percent increase in hip replacements and a 525 percent increase in knee replacements but are "just a small slice of the pie," Dr. Iorio said. "The demand for these procedures will grow rapidly, and the orthopaedic workforce will not be able to keep up. The supply of orthopaedic surgeons will only increase 2 percent during 2000 and 2020. What we have on our hands is an access problem."

Orthopaedic surgeons trained in joint replacement (also known as specialists in adult reconstruction) are usually the physicians surgically trained to perform hip or knee replacement. In fact, this specialized group will be the ones faced with this dilemma.

A 2005 survey of more than 23,000 AAOS members revealed:

-- 30 percent identified themselves as general orthopaedic surgeons

-- 13 percent of orthopaedic surgeons identified themselves as specialists in sports medicine

-- 10 percent identified themselves as hand surgeons

-- Only 7 percent identified themselves as primary surgical specialists for the adult hip and knee

"Simply put," Iorio added, "there will be a need for services that overwhelms the supply of physicians who will be able to fill that demand. Patient care is of utmost concern to us. Getting arthritic patients back to the quality of life they once had is always first and foremost. If these projections come to life, the access for a joint replacement will negatively impact patient care."

Dr. Iorio and others will be discussing "Total Joint Replacement: Tackling a Growing Epidemic" at a media briefing to be held today at the AAOS Annual Meeting in the Moscone Convention Center, South Mezzanine, at 12:45 p.m., in Room 224. Dr. Iorio and the panelists will discuss the depth of this problem and what, if anything can be done to avoid it.

The panelists include: William Robb, III, MD, from Evanston Northwestern Hospital, Daniel Berry, MD, and David Lewallen, MD, both from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Thomas Fehring, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at OrthoCarolina, and William L. Healy, MD, from Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass.

Editor's Note: Full disclosure information for each AAOS media-briefing participant is available upon request. Please contact Catherine Dolf, (Cell) (847) 894-9112 or Lauren Pearson, (Cell) (224) 374-8610 for more information.

Abstract for Dr. Iorio's study

About AAOS

American Association for Hip and Knee Surgeons

Knee Society

Hip Society

Contact Information: For more information, contact: Lauren Pearson C: (224) 374-8610 O: (847) 384-4031 Catherine Dolf C: (847) 894-9112 O: (847) 384-4034