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Knee Replacement Surgery on Increase According to New Study

A new study1 from Finland published in Arthritis & Rheumatism2, has found that incidences of partial and total knee arthroplasty have increased rapidly over a 27-year period, with a 130-fold increase in the procedure since 1985.

The new study, led by Dr Jarkko Leskinen, an orthopaedic surgeon at Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland, aimed to advance understanding of “knee arthroplasty incidence and its effects in younger populations”.

The team obtained data collected by the Finnish Arthroplasty Registry of all unicondylar and total knee replacements performed between 1980 and 2006, and analysed the effects of gender, age group and hospital volume on incidence rates of arthroplasty for knee osteoarthritis (OA).

The key findings from the study were:

• 130-fold increase in incidence of total knee arthroplasty amongst patients aged between 30 and 59
• Increase in incidence from 0.5 to 65 operations per 100, 000 individuals
• Most rapid increase occurring from 2001 to 2006 (18 to 65 operations per 100, 000)
• Increase in incidence of partial knee replacements from 0.2 to 10 operations per 100, 000 individuals
• In last ten years, incidence of total knee replacements was 1.6 to 2.4-fold higher in women that in men
• Incidences of total and partial knee replacements were also higher with 50-59 year-olds

Of the study, Dr. Leskinen had this to say:

“Our study confirmed rapid growth in incidences of partial and total knee arthroplasty in those less than 60 years of age. Given that younger patients may be at higher risk of artificial knee joint failure and thus in need of a second replacement surgery, long-term data are needed before widespread use of total knee arthroplasty is recommended for this patient population.”


In a related editorial also published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, Dr. Elena Losina with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts agreed:

“Total knee arthroplasty is an effective intervention for OA with excellent outcomes for patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s.”

Arthritis Ireland agrees, stating:

“The outcomes for these surgeries are generally very positive and can dramatically improve the patient’s quality of life.”


1 Leskinen J, Eskelinen A, Huhtala H, et al. (2011) The Incidence of Knee Arthroplasty for Primary Osteoarthritis Grows Rapidly Among Baby-Boomers – A Population-Based Study. Arthritis& Rheumatism. Published online ahead of print. January 17, 2012. doi: 10.1002/art.33367.

2 Arthritis & Rheumatism is a peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR)

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