My mother needs a hip replacement badly. But the orthopedic surgeons at our hospital are so booked up, they can't fit her in until next September. What in the world is going on here?
Consider these statistics: 202,500 total hip replacements were done in 2003. In that same year, 36,000 total hip replacements were operated on again to revise, remove, or replace the first implant. The number of between the ages of 30 and 65 who will develop osteoarthritis is expected to increase two to 10 times the current rate.
With the rising problem of obesity in the United States and the aging population, it is predicted that these figures will increase. For example, it is estimated that by the year 2030, the number of primary (first) hip replacements will increase by 174 per cent. And the number of revision procedures will double in number.
We have always known that hip osteoarthritis is a common problem and one that can be very disabling. But the pace at which the need for hip replacement is rising has taken the orthopedic community by surprise. This may be what you are seeing in your community as well. All previous estimates of future numbers of primary and revision total hip replacements have been way under par.
How do we know the number of cases of total hip replacement has exceeded the projected estimates? Hospitals keep data that is logged into a national data base. Hospital administrators use this information to plan ahead for future needs (e.g., personnel, supplies, facilities) based on current trends.
Not only are more adults being affected by osteoarthritis resulting in hip degeneration, but the age at which the need (the demand!) has occurred has declined. In other words, more and more younger adults (younger than 55 years old) are getting total hip replacements. And that trend is expected to continue into the future as well.
In your mother's case, there may be other reasons why the surgeons are so backed up but it may very well be explained by the trends reported here. If your mother is in dire pain, it may be possible to put her on the surgery cancellation list. If someone who was scheduled for a similar operation has passed away, moved away, changed his or her mind, or have some other reason to cancel, another patient could get that spot. With a little persistence, that could be your mother. Call and check with the surgeon's staff and found out what her options might be.
Shane J. Nho, MD, MS, et al. The Burden of Hip Osteoarthritis in the United States: Epidemiologic and Economic Considerations. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. July 2013. Vol. 21. Supplement 1. Pp. S1-S6.
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