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Musculoskeletal procedures account for over 10 percent of all hospital care in the United States

Musculoskeletal procedures, including knee reconstruction or replacement (knee arthroplasty), total and partial hip replacement, and spinal fusion increased by nearly 25 percent between 1997 and 2005, climbing from 822,000 to 1.3 million, according to a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The data indicate that between 1997 and 2005:

  • The number of knee surgeries climbed by 69 percent from 328,800 to 555,800. Hip replacements rose 32 percent from 290,700 to 383,500 procedures, and spinal fusion operations rose 73 percent from 202,100 procedures to 349,400.
  • Women were 60 percent more likely than men to have hip replacements and 70 percent more likely to have knee surgery. Spinal fusions were equally likely in both men and women.
  • Hospital stays for orthopedic procedures totaled $31.5 billion-10 percent of all hospital patient care costs.
  • Medicare paid the largest share of hospital costs for knee surgery and hip replacements (covering nearly 60 percent of all knee surgeries and 64 percent of all hip replacements). On the other hand, private insurance was billed for over half (52 percent) of spinal fusions.

More information can be found in Hospital Stays Involving Musculoskeletal Procedures, 1997-2005 (

The report uses data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

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