New Knees for Old

Michael Mandel

First, an apology to my readers (if any are left by now). It's been almost a month since my last post, as my spare time and attention has been absorbed by my wife's second knee replacement operation--the right one was done 18 months ago, this time it was the left.

She's still young (tell her I said so!), and expects to go back to dance classes after she recovers. And apparently she's not alone. According to a July 31, 2006 article in the Baltimore Sun

By 2030, the number of knee replacements in the United States is expected to jump 673 percent to 3.48 million, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' annual meeting in March.

Hip replacements are expected to grow 174 percent to 572,000.

"Prior generations lived with a little limp. But baby boomers are the first generation to try to stay active on an aging frame," said Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon in Philadelphia who has seen the number of patients in their 50s and younger swell in recent years.

A little limp. A little limp. Pre-knee surgery, my wife didn't have a little was more like a knee that would buckle at random moments. Airports were completely unmanageable.

The question, though, is whether all these knee replacements will be done in the U.S. or somewhere else, like India, at a much lower cost.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.