Hip replacement surgery (arthroplasty) is very common in the United States, where the cost widely varies from state to state. In Birmingham, Alabama, a hip replacement can be found for approximately $20,000, while in New York, the average cost of a hip replacement is closer to $60,000. Huge price fluctuations can also be seen in states like Massachusetts, where a variation of as much as 313% can be found. The cost of hip replacement surgery in the United States will usually be covered partially by medical insurance but is only fully covered in cases where a replacement is absolutely necessary to prevent the overall health of the patient from deteriorating.
What You Need to Know About Hip Replacements
The human hip is a joint that connects the leg to the body. The top of the thigh bone (femur) is round and is called the femoral head. The femoral head rotates in the socket of the pelvis. This socket is called the acetabulum. The femoral head and acetabulum are separated by cartilage and fluid that lubricates the joint for ease of motion
A number of orthopedic conditions can result in the need for a hip replacement, most notably arthritis, osteonecrosis and bone tumours around the hip joint. A hip replacement may also be necessary if the hip joint is damaged by impact trauma or injury. Resulting from factors including arthritis and inflammation from general wear and tear, previous injury or disease, rough surfaces may be created between the femoral head and acetabulum. This may lead to pain and make it difficult to walk and carry out normal daily activities, leading many hip implant patients to undergo revision surgery to repair or replace the damaged hip.
During surgery, damaged cartilage and surrounding bone are removed from the acetabulum. The acetabulum is replaced with an artificial cup kept in place with cement or screws, though the design of certain hip implants allows new bone to grow into the implant to keep it stable. The femoral head is replaced with an artificial ball, and an artificial stem is placed in hollow space in the femur to support the artificial ball. The artificial ball fits into the lined artificial cup to yield a reconstructed hip joint.
Most hip implants are generally designed the same, and they replicate the ball-and-socket structure of the human hip to allow for natural movement of the hip joint. An implant consists of an artificial femoral stem, an artificial ball replacing the femoral head, and an artificial cup replacing the acetabulum. A liner is placed in the cup to reduce friction and enable smooth movement. Hip implants are intended to last between 10 – 20 years, with durability based upon each patient’s unique condition, body composition, and lifestyle.
Hip implants were traditionally made out of ceramic and other non-metal materials. In an effort to make hip implants more durable, manufacturers such as Stryker Corporation, Smith & Nephew, B. Braun Melsungen AG, DJO Global, Exactech Inc., MicroPort Scientific Corporation, Depuy Synthes/Johnson & Johnson and Zimmer Biomet started designing and producing metal-on-metal joints. However, it was subsequently discovered that metal-on-metal hip joints may release toxic metal debris into a patient’s body due to friction caused by the artificial ball and cup rubbing together. This type of metal poisoning is called metallosis and can lead to hip implant failure and many serious and painful side effects throughout the body.
How Much Does a Hip Replacement Cost?
The cost of a hip replacement depends on a number of factors, and obtaining a price estimate can be difficult. Overall health is one factor that can affect the final cost of a hip replacement. The risks involved with surgery increase if a patient has any existing health issues, as well as the likelihood of a replacement joint failing. In that regard, a general health examination will be carried out during the consultation period to assess the level of risk involved if hip replacement surgery goes ahead. Underlying conditions could also result in a higher cost for surgery.
The experience and reputation of the medical facility, clinic, hospital or surgeon is another factor to take into consideration. Surgeons with particularly good reputations and decades of experience are likely to demand a higher premium and have a lengthy waiting list. However, savings on hip replacements can be found with surgeons who are highly-skilled but still developing their reputation, or with surgeons who are new to the profession.
Another aspect to consider is the possible expense of aftercare and rehabilitation following the surgery, which is not often covered by the initial cost estimate given by a hospital. The recovery process after a hip replacement can be lengthy and usually involves a program of physical rehabilitation, and additional costs from nurse and therapist visits, painkilling medication and specialist equipment such as crutches, walkers and braces, may be incurred. Rehabilitation following hip replacement surgery is catered to the needs of each individual patient, so it is vital that patients talk through the process with the surgeon or consultant before the surgery to develop a clear picture of the process, what it involves and any potential costs.
For more information, please contact The Ahearne Law Firm, PLLC for an initial consultation and case evaluation. Call nationwide at (845) 763-4100.