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Osteoarthritis Health Center

Patients Rate Knee, Hip Replacement

Magazine Survey Shows Most Patients Satisfied with New Knee or Hip
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 5, 2006 -- A new survey by Consumer Reports shows a high degree of patient satisfaction with knee- or hip-replacement surgery.

The survey included 1,001 knee- and hip-replacement patients. The results, published in the magazine's June issue, include:

  • 82% reported being "very" or "completely" satisfied with their new joint.
  • Recovery is long and sometimes painful.
  • 5% reported getting an infection shortly after surgery, a higher rate than in some other studies.
  • Secondary complications were relatively common.

Every year, more than 600,000 people in the U.S. undergo hip- or knee-replacement surgery, according to Consumer Reports. The magazine survey included a nationally representative sample of those patients.

Here is a closer look at the survey and its results.

Who Took Part?

The survey was conducted by telephone in February 2006. Participants had received a new hip, knee, or both knees any time between 2000 and 2004.

"More than 70 percent had the surgery because of osteoarthritisosteoarthritis; other reasons included fractures, traumatic injuries, and rheumatoid arthritisrheumatoid arthritis, a less common form of arthritisarthritis that stems from autoimmune causes," states Consumer Reports.

A third of the patients were men. Patients were about 71 years old, on average; 15% were younger than 60. About 40% got hip replacements and 60% underwent knee replacementknee replacement.

Shoulder replacement and partial knee replacement were not covered in the survey.

Patients' Views of Recovery

The magazine provides these details on the patients' recovery:

  • Most patients stopped taking pain medications (including over-the-counter pills) after two months.
  • 12% were still taking pain medication after a year.
  • At least 90% could do routine activities after a month.
  • A third of hip patients and a quarter of knee patients said they couldn't walk half a mile as late as a year after surgery.

As for the 5% of patients who reported infections soon after surgery, "we can't tell from our survey whether those were serious deep-tissue infections or less worrisome surface infections," Consumer Reports states.

Other reported complications included:

  • A seriously weakened or contracted muscle (13% of patients).
  • Legs of unequal length (13% of hip-replacement patients and 7% of knee-replacement patients).
  • Another operation to correct problems from the first surgery (5% of all the patients).

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