Knee replacement surgery has become quite common and more affordable in the last few years. It is now considered as a safe option for people with severe osteoarthritis of the knee joint. This is especially a boon for patients who have end-stage arthritis of the knee.
The constant increase in the number of patients undergoing knee surgery surgery can be attributed to a number of reasons, including the following:
Increased affordability: Now a greater number of patients prefer to opt for knee replacement surgery because the cost of implants has decreased significantly in the recent past.
Range of implants available: Thanks to advancements in medical technology, there are a number of knee implants available today to fulfill the individual needs of the patients. From implants with 180 and 360 degrees motion to 3D-printed knee implants, there is nothing that isn’t available to benefit patients with different severity of osteoarthritis.
Improved surgical outcomes: Open knee replacement is a thing of the past. Now, several new technologies are available that offer greater benefits and ensures positive outcomes. Thanks to minimally invasive technology, surgery is not that painful anymore. Nor does it take weeks of hospitalization for the patient to recover.
But still, the cost of knee surgery in the Western countries continues to remain on the higher side. For patients in such countries who wish to undergo affordable knee surgery, flying to the top medical tourism destination is an option. Some of these medical tourism hotspots for knee replacement include India, Thailand, and Turkey.
The Average Cost of Knee Replacement: Top Countries
The average cost of knee surgery in the Western countries may start from $30000. Further, it is seen that the cost of knee replacement surgery varies not only from country to country but within a country or a city as well. This is especially true about the US.
For example, the knee surgery cost in Dallas, US, may vary between $16,772 and $61,585, depending on the hospital. Paying a higher price for a procedure does not necessarily mean that the quality that the hospital offers to the patient is any better than the hospital that is less expensive.
There are several factors that can be attributed to the disparity between the pricing of the same procedure within the same city. Competition, state taxes, location, and the level of free care provided by the hospital are some of them.
The cost of knee replacement in India, Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, and Taiwan, on the other hand, is much more reasonable than in the Western countries. The cost drops by as much as 50 to 80 percent in these countries. This explains the patient mindset when they decide to travel to the overseas to get knee implants.
Type, Material, and Manufacturer of Implant
There are different types and material of knee implants available today to choose from. Each implant has a specific purpose and is most suitable for a specific patient group. For example, older adults can manage everyday activities with an implant that allows flexion of 110 degrees. However, younger adults may need a high-flex knee implant because of an excessive activity level.
Cobalt chromium alloy, titanium alloy, oxidized zirconium, and polyethylene implants are commonly available nowadays. Each implant material has specific pros and cons associated with them. They vary in terms of pricing, use, availability, and longevity.
Type of Surgery
An individual is either recommended to undergo (TKR) or partial knee replacement. The difference lies in the portion of the knee joint replaced during the procedure. The duration of hospitalization and the recovery period in the case of TKR is greater than that of partial replacement. Therefore, there is a direct impact on the total cost that the patient has to shell out of his pocket for the procedure.
Type of Hospital
Hospitals with the most advanced infrastructure and state-of-the-art technologies tend to charge higher than other hospitals. This is despite the fact that the experience and the qualifications of the surgeon handling the case could be the same. The cost also depends on the location of the hospital. Centrally-located and easily accessible hospitals are expensive than remotely located ones.
Experience of the Surgeon
The cost of knee surgery also depends on how experienced the surgeon is. Surgeons with vast experience are the most sought after. In fact, it has been scientifically proved that surgeons who perform more than 50 TKR a year have less than one-third complications rate as compared to those who perform less than 50 TKR per year.
Most patients prefer to be treated by a surgeon who is experienced. But there is an extra price that they must pay for it.
Rehabilitation after surgery includes physiotherapy, which is conducted at an extra cost. The doctors usually advise the candidate to undergo physiotherapy for at least 6 to 12 weeks for better outcomes and pain relief. Each session of physical therapy may cost anywhere between $20 and $350, depending on the country where you are getting treated. Rehabilitation is an important aspect of recovery after knee replacement. Therefore, patients must take into consideration these expenses while planning for the surgery.
The patient may have to incur incidental costs in case of any complication. Additionally, the costs may increase when the duration of stay inside the ICU post surgery is extended. Like any other surgery, there are certain complications associated as well. Post-surgical infection delayed wound healing, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and pulmonary embolism are some of the examples. The management of such conditions has an impact on the overall cost.
Unanticipated care and management of a pre-existing condition may add to the total bill amount.
The greater the number of days you spend at the hospital, the bigger is the billing amount.
Cost of private or single accommodation is greater than shared or multi-bedded accommodation.
Follow-up visits after discharge from the hospital cost extra.
Loss of earning resulting out of hospital stay and impact of surgery may add to the financial burden.
Tips To Choose A Hospital Overseas For Knee Surgery
Choose the country wisely. Countries that offer cheaper treatment do not necessarily compromise with the quality of medical services.
Choose the surgeon wisely. Do not choose someone who is experienced but charges a whopping amount.
Choose a surgeon whose clinic is less crowded. Surgeons who are hugely popular tend to remain busy and spend less time per patient. This may hinder personalized care that you may desire to have.
Seek help from a hospital or a medical tourism facilitator to arrange for additional needs. This may include accommodation, local travel, translator services, and hospital transfer.
Check the credibility of the hospital online before selecting one. Look for patient testimonials and Google reviews.
Check the accreditation of the hospital. Prefer to choose a hospital that is certified by Joint Commission International (JCI).
Ask for all the information beforehand about the type of implants that will be used. Also, ask for a detailed profile of the surgeon who will conduct the surgery.
Seek an estimate for potential costs associated with airline tickets, hotel, food, and other expenses.