Hospitalisation and the treatment of osteoarthritis

At present there is no cure for osteoarthritis. A variety of procedures are performed in hospitals to restore joint function, help relieve pain and improve quality of life for someone with osteoarthritis. For people unresponsive to medication, joint replacement surgery is a cost-effective intervention [1].

Based on the AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD), in 2015–16:

  • there were 254,282 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of osteoarthritis, a rate of 1,059 hospitalisations per 100,000 population
  • more than half (57%) of osteoarthritis hospitalisations were for females, and the remaining 43% were for males
  • the hospitalisation rate was lowest among those aged 40 and under, steadily increased until the age of 75–79, and then decreased again among people aged 80 and over.

Figure 1: Rate of hospitalisation for osteoarthritis by sex and age, 2015–16

The vertical bar chart shows that in 2015–16, the hospitalisation rate for the principal diagnosis of osteoarthritis was higher for males up to the of 50–54, above which the rate was higher for females. The hospitalisation rate increased with age until the age of 75–79 after which it fell.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (Data table).

Knee and hip replacements

Joint replacement surgery is a cost-effective intervention for people with severe osteoarthritis and those unresponsive to medication [1]. These procedures restore joint function, help relieve pain and improve quality of life of the affected person.

In 2015–16, 50,609 knee replacements (181 per 100,000 population) and 30,958 hip replacements (112 per 100,000 population) were performed in hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of osteoarthritis. The rate of knee or hip replacements was lowest in people aged under 40, increased with age to 75–79, and then decreased among those aged 80 and over (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Rate of total knee and hip replacements for osteoarthritis, by age, 2015–16

The vertical bar chart shows that in 2015–16, the rate of knee or hip replacements was highest among men and women aged 75–79 years.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (Data table).

Between 2005–06 and 2015–16, the age-standardised rate of joint replacement surgery in hospitalisations where osteoarthritis was the principal diagnosis steadily increased, by:

  • 36% for total knee replacement (from 133 to 181 per 100,000 population)
  • 38% for total hip replacement (from 81 to 112 per 100,000 population) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Trends in total knee and hip replacements for osteoarthritis, 2005–06 to 2015–16

Trend line graph shows hospitalisations for knee replacement and hip replacement surgeries grew from 2005-06 to 2015-16. Knee replacements are more common than hip replacements.

Note: Rates are age-standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (Data table).

All joint replacements require correction (revision surgery) over time. Based on data from the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry [1], there were 4,668 revision surgeries for knee replacements and 4,292 revision surgeries for hip replacements reported in 2016.

References

  1. AOA (Australian Orthopaedic Association) 2017. Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry. Annual Report. Adelaide: AOA.