Hip & Knee Replacement Surgery

Nearly half a million Americans get hip replacements each year, and hundreds of thousands more receive artificial knees.

That number is expected to quadruple, as younger people turn to joint replacements to stay active. If you’re considering a hip or knee replacement, Consumer Reports has some important cautions.

This couple is light on their feet. But following a hip replacement five years ago, Barbara Burnap says recovery was harder than she expected.

Burnap says, “I was expecting to get up and start walking day two of surgery, after surgery. I really did not expect to, you know, have those limitations.”

Like Barbara, millions of Americans have had their hips or knees replaced, often to alleviate debilitating arthritis pain.

Consumer Reports medical experts say for many, the surgeries are a good option, but there can be serious complications.

Dr. John Santa of Consumer Reports says, “The biggest risk is infections. You are putting a foreign body, a foreign source of material, in your body.”

Consumer Reports rated hundreds of hospitals on how well patients fared during and after hip and knee surgery.

“It really matters where you go in terms of hip and knee replacement.” said Dr. Santa.

Another issue: how long the artificial joints will last —
a particular concern for younger patients. Consumer Reports’ Safe Patient Project believes they should come with a warranty.

Lisa McGiffert, with Consumer Reports' Safe Patient Project says, “The benefits of hip and knee implant warranties are one, it tells people how long this implant’s going to last. It gives them realistic expectations. And two, it gives them a clear process to follow if their implant should fail.”

Barbara Burnap’s new hip didn’t come with such a warranty, but she hopes to be dancing on it for a very long time.

Consumer Reports’ Safe Patient Project says the vast majority of implants are not backed by a warranty. The organization is asking manufacturers to provide 20-year warranties that would let patients replace defective hip or knee implants at no cost.

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