A study presented during the AAOS Annual Meeting analyzed the treatment costs for knee osteoarthritis and, ultimately, TKR. The authors estimate that almost one-third of the costs were for treatments not recommended by the AAOS.

In the study, researchers reviewed Humana Inc insurance information (both private and Medicare plans) from 2007 through 2015 for more than 86,000 patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis who went on to undergo total knee replacement (TKR) surgery within 1 year.

Including all the patients in the analysis, in total, the costs associated with outpatient knee osteoarthritis were $43,582,648.

Recommended treatments for such patients, per the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, include physical therapy, NSAIDs, and the drug tramadol (short-term for severe pain). Per the analysis, these treatments represented only 11% of the total cost.

However, treatments such as hyaluronic acid injections, corticosteroid injections, and braces and wedge insoles—which the AAOS has strong or moderate recommendations against their use—represented almost 30% of the costs.

Per this analysis, the AAOS concludes that presurgical costs could decrease by 30% if only the recommended treatments, such as physical therapy, were prescribed.

“As we transition to an era of value based health care, it will be important to consider both the quality of our interventions as well as the cost associated with that care,” says study author Nicholas Bedard, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, in a media release from the AAOS.

“We hope that research such as this highlights the high prevalence of low-value interventions in the management of knee osteoarthritis and helps to motivate a transition to higher value care,” Bedard adds.

[Source(s): American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, PR Newswire]