Joint replacement likely to continue with boomers

The need for total joint replacement surgery and rehabilitation will remain stable and likely expand as baby boomers take advantage of the procedure to ease pain caused by injuries earlier in life. Total joint replacement surgery is used to relieve arthritis pain when anti-inflammatory drugs and arthroscopy fail to provide relief.

The good news for subacute providers is that the market’s projected growth is expected to reach $2 billion by the year 2002, according to a recently published study by Frost and Sullivan, an international marketing consulting company in Mountain View, CA. The study, titled U.S. Prosthetic Joint Implants Market, is now available from the company. (For ordering information, see the editor’s note below.)

More than 500,000 procedures are performed each year in the United States, and reconstructive joint products generated $1.7 billion in revenues in 1995, according to the study. While hip procedures are conducted more frequently, knee procedures generate the most revenue.

Obstacles to growth identified

Researchers identified two obstacles to additional growth in the joint replacement market. First, the market for joint replacement products continues to buckle under the pressure of cost containment. As a result, providers are experiencing a shift from traditional indemnity insurance reimbursement to negotiated contracts among managed care organizations.

Second, problems with polyethylene wear in hip and knee products and the technical challenge of anatomical alignment could, if addressed by manufacturers, drive the market into a new growth phase, researchers predict.

[Editor’s note: Copies of U.S. Prosthetic Joint Implants Market are available from Frost and Sullivan’s California branch. The study costs $2,995. Contact Russ Pecoraro for ordering information. Frost and Sullivan, 2525 Charleston Road, Mountain View, CA 94943. Telephone: (415) 961-9000, Ext. 488. Fax: (415) 961-5042.Please include address. World Wide Web:]