TUESDAY, March 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- 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, according to research findings scheduled to be presented on Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, held from March 24 to 28 in Las Vegas.
For the study, Alexander McLawhorn, M.D., M.B.A., an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and colleagues used a government database on U.S. hospital admissions. Between 2002 and 2011, they found, the annual number of total hip replacements among 45- to 64-year-olds rose from about 68,000 to 128,000 -- an 89 percent increase. The rate among older Americans also rose, but by 37 percent.
Few patients in the study suffered complications (venous thromboembolic event, acute myocardial infarction, and death within 90 days of the surgery, and revision, dislocation, and deep infection within two years). Men were slightly more likely to have these serious complications than women, but the risk was still low.
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 told HealthDay. 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. Plus, he added, 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," he said.