The economic burden to Medicare due to revision arthroplasty procedures has not yet been studied systematically. The economic burden of revisions was calculated as annual reimbursements for revision arthroplasties relative to the sum total reimbursements of primary and revision arthroplasties. We evaluated this revision burden for total hip and knee arthroplasties through investigation of trends in charges and reimbursements in the Medicare population (Parts A and B claims from 1997-2003), while taking into account age and gender effects. Mean annual economic revision burdens were 18.8% (range, 17.4-20.2%) and 8.2% (range, 7.5-9.2%) for total hip arthroplasties and total knee arthroplasties, respectively. Procedural charges increased while reimbursements decreased over the study period, with higher charges observed for revisions than primary arthroplasties. Reimbursements per procedure were 62% to 68% less than associated charges for primary and revision total hip and knee arthroplasties. The effect of age and gender on reimbursements varied by procedure type. Unless some limiting mechanism is implemented to reduce the incidence of revision surgeries, the diverging trends in reimbursements and charges for total hip and knee arthroplasties indicate that the economic impact to the Medicare population and healthcare system will continue to increase.
Level of Evidence: Prognostic study, level II-1 (retrospective study). See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.