Canberra tops the nation in knee replacement surgeries
Advertisement

Canberra tops the nation in knee replacement surgeries

The ACT has recorded more knee replacement surgeries per capita than any other jurisdiction in Australia.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed 256.9 Canberrans per 100,000 were undergoing knee replacements, the highest per capita rate in the country.

Murray Williams had both of his knees replaced 12 years ago and has found it has helped him a lot.

Murray Williams had both of his knees replaced 12 years ago and has found it has helped him a lot.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

Australian Rheumatology Association president Dr David Nicholls said while the figures were high, medical experts have said there could be another range of factors involved in the high uptake.

"It's unfortunate that people rely on surgery as the mainstay of managing arthritis of the knee," Dr Nicholls said.

Advertisement

Canberra man Murray Williams had both knees replaced 12 years ago after the increasing severity of his osteoarthritis.

"I never regretted it. I had a completely successful result; it made a big difference," Mr Williams said.

The severe dull pain had begun to keep him up at night and he was concerned about the amount of painkillers he was taking.

After the surgery, something as simple as walking was no longer painful.

A former GP, he acknowledged a lot of it was to do with luck as he knew some people who had less favourable results.

"I think the skill of the surgeon and the follow-up is important," Mr Murray said.

Dr Nicholls said people were not often offered alternatives to surgery by surgeons but physiotherapy, exercise or weight loss could make a big difference.

"You can lose 7 to 10 per cent of your body weight, that can lead to improvements of a 50 to 60 per cent reduction in pain," Dr Nicholls said.

Knee replacement surgery is commonly reserved for people with osteoarthritis.

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care data indicated the median age of Australians receiving knee replacements in 2015 was 69 years old for publicly funded patients and 68 years old for privately funded patients.

Dr Nicholls said the population was getting older but also putting on more weight.

He pointed to two main contributors: "weight gain and less psychical activity".

The commission's data also indicated the majority of patients in Canberra receiving knee replacement surgery were private, at 65 per cent, with 35 per cent of Canberrans going through the public system.

Canberra's per capita knee replacement rates were above the national rate, 204.5 people per 100,000, which is still above the OECD per capita of 125.9 people per 100,000. The Northern Territory had the lowest per capita rate in Australia, with 96.7 people per 100,000.

Finbar O'Mallon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

Most Viewed in National

Loading
Advertisement