Baby boomers driving jump in replacement surgeries

The Baby Boomer generation has become a hallmark group in terms of knee and hip joint replacement surgery, reports the Associated Press--creating a likely pathway for future financial and capital project planning for hospitals.

Knee replacements totaled more than 621,000 in 2009, compared to slightly more than 264,000 in 1997, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. But the number of procedures among the 45-to-64 age group have more than tripled over the past decade, with a similar trend for hip replacements. However, that age group grew only 36 percent during that same time period. Although obesity rates have also risen, they have not matched the rise in replacement procedures.

"It's this mindset of 'fix me at any cost, turn back the clock,'" said Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon in Philadelphia. "The boomers are the first generation trying to stay active in droves on an aging frame."

The replacements themselves will likely drive even more replacements down the line, as they do not last nearly as long as their natural counterparts and are often being used to allow recipients to continue strenuous physical activity, researchers say.

For more:
- read the Associated Press article
- here's AHRQ data on knee replacement surgeries