Studies Show That Costs Quadruple When Surgical Site Infections (SSIs Develop After Hip and Knee Replacements

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Infections are less than ideal in all cases as they are taxing on a patient and extremely costly. A study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology found that the total 1-year health care cost for patients who develop complex surgical site infections, or SSIs, following hip and knee replacements is more than four times higher compared with patients who do not sustain an infection. 1 The results came from a database of Canadian patients as well as from estimated cost to manage SSIs in hip and knee arthroplasty patients in the United States.

“Nearly 800,000 primary hip and knee arthroplasty procedures are performed annually in North America,” Elissa D. Rennert-May, MD, from the departments of medicine and community health sciences at the University of Calgary, and colleagues noted. “Approximately 1% of these are complicated by a complex surgical site infection, leading to very high health care costs. However, population-based studies to properly estimate the economic burden are lacking. We aimed to address this knowledge gap.”1

Using administrative health and clinical databases, Rennert-May and colleagues created a cohort of all patients in Alberta, Canada, who received a primary hip or knee arthroplasty between April 1, 2012, and March 31, 2015. They collected data on joint infections in adults aged 18 years or older from the Alberta Health Services infection prevention and control group. The study included data for all complex SSIs found within 90 days of arthroplasty from April 2012 to March 2015.

They calculated that the 12-month cumulative health care costs for patients who developed a complex SSI were $95,321 vs. $19,893 for those who did not, equaling $68,150 and $14,223 in U.S. dollars respectively.1 The authors concluded, “using the average 1-year total health care costs, in Alberta, we spend approximately $8.3 million annually on patients who develop complex SSI following primary hip and knee arthroplasties compared to the $1.67 million we would spend had those patients not developed a complex SSI.”1

Rennert-May and colleagues applied the same complex infection rate to the United States. The authors found that the annual expenditure would be approximately $496 million in U.S. dollars to manage SSIs in this patient population, compared with $104 million had no infection developed.1

“In conclusion, we estimated the incremental cost of managing patients with complex SSI following primary hip or knee arthroplasty, noting a difference in total mean 1-year costs of more than $75,000 (U.S. $53,621),” the authors wrote. “Future research should consider the cost-effectiveness of different methods to prevent complex SSI following arthroplasty. Infectious diseases physicians should be encouraged to work with orthopedic surgeons and hospital administrators to promote the implementation of cost-effective strategies to prevent SSI.”1 TracPatch may be the cost-effective method needed to help prevent complex SSI following arthroplasty.

The TracPatch Surface Sensor Technology adheres to a total knee patient’s leg following joint surgery and captures activity data including range of motion (ROM), exercise compliance, pain scores, PROM survey submissions, and ambulation. Not only does the technology collect and share important activity data with the patient’s healthcare provider, but it also gives patients the ability to share pain scores, wound photos and automatically collects wound site temperature trends. These features keep healthcare providers updated with real-time patient trends and allows them to make changes to the recovery plan at the press of a button. Healthcare providers can remotely monitor each patient and evaluate whether they need a follow-up appointment based on their individual data. The technology may be just what is needed to catch an abnormality before it worsens. For more information about TracPatch contact us today.


  1. Costs quadruple when SSIs develop after hip, knee replacements. (2018, September 15). Retrieved October 29, 2019, from{8317140b-fc1d-410b-95bb-80cb3db111ad}/costs-quadruple-when-ssis-develop-after-hip-knee-replacements.
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