For people considering hip or knee replacement surgery, it’s something they want — and need — to know.
In the US alone, surgeons perform more than 600,000 knee replacements and about 330,000 hip replacements each year. These operations can provide a major improvement in quality of life and function for those with severe arthritis. On the other hand, there are risks associated with the operation (as is true for any major surgery), there is a long road to recovery even when all goes well, and these operations aren’t cheap. For knee replacement surgery alone, an estimated $9 billion or more is spent each year in the US (although economic analyses suggest the surgery may actually be cost-saving over the long run).
So, if the first joint replacement is unsuccessful for some reason (such as infection or loosening), a second (or even third) operation may be necessary. And that’s a big deal, especially since “revision surgery” is technically more difficult, recovery can take longer, and success rates may be lower than first operations.