Over 10 years, rate of surgeries nearly doubled for those ages 45 to 64
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Amy Norton
TUESDAY, March 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- More and more middle-aged Americans are replacing their hips damaged by severe arthritis -- a surgery that used to be largely reserved for elderly people, a new study reports.
Researchers found that between 2002 and 2011, the rate of hip-replacement surgery nearly doubled among Americans ages 45 to 64. By 2011, those middle-aged patients accounted for over 42 percent of all hip replacements nationally -- up from 34 percent in 2002.
It's a striking change in a fairly short amount of time, according to lead researcher Dr. Alexander McLawhorn, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
"I think we were a bit surprised by the magnitude of the increase," said McLawhorn.
However, he noted, the findings are consistent with government figures released just last month. That study found that the number of hip replacements nationwide soared between 2000 and 2010 -- particularly among people ages 45 to 54, whose rate rose by over 200 percent.
McLawhorn is scheduled to present the findings on Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, being held in Las Vegas. Findings presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
McLawhorn's team suspects one key factor that may be driving this new trend: growth in the number of middle-aged Americans.
"But I definitely think there are other factors driving the trend, too," McLawhorn said.
Improvements in the artificial joints' durability, and surgeons' growing willingness to place them in younger, more active people might also be factors behind the increase, he said.
Plus, he said, patients with severe arthritis are increasingly open to the option. "I think there's been a shift in the public perception of what your function will be like after a total hip replacement," McLawhorn said.
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, with the head of the thighbone fitting into a cup in the pelvis. During total hip replacement, those portions of bone are replaced with artificial components, usually made from metal and plastic. Most often, people end up needing the surgery due to severe osteoarthritis -- where the cartilage cushioning the hip bones breaks down, causing pain and stiffness.
source : More Middle-Aged Americans Are Getting Hips Replaced