Background: Concurrent head-to-head comparisons of healthcare interventions regarding cost-utility are rare. The concept of favorable cost-effectiveness of total hip or knee arthroplasty is thus inadequately verified.
Patients and methods: In a trial involving several thousand patients from 10 medical specialties, 223 patients who were enrolled for hip or knee replacement surgery were asked to fill in the 15D health-related quality of life (HRQoL) survey before and after operation.
Results: Mean (SD) HRQoL score (on a 0-1 scale) increased in primary hip replacement patients (n = 96) from 0.81 (0.084) preoperatively to 0.86 (0.12) at 12 months (p < 0.001). In revision hip replacement (n = 24) the corresponding scores were 0.81 (0.086) and 0.82 (0.097) respectively (p = 0.4), and in knee replacement (n = 103) the scores were 0.81 (0.093) and 0.84 (0.11) respectively (p < 0.001). Of 15 health dimensions, there were statistically significant improvements in moving, usual activities, discomfort and symptoms, distress, and vitality in both primary replacement groups. Mean cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained during a 1-year period was euro 6,710 for primary hip replacement, euro 52,274 for revision hip replacement, and euro 13,995 for primary knee replacement.
Interpretation: Hip and knee replacement both improve HRQoL. The cost per QALY gained from knee replacement is twice that gained from hip replacement.