What Are the Primary Cost Drivers of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction in the United States? A Cost-Minimization Analysis of 14,713 Patients

Arthroscopy. 2019 May;35(5):1576-1581. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2018.12.013. Epub 2019 Mar 26.


Purpose: To analyze the individual costs associated with anterior crucial ligament reconstruction (ACLR), accounting for patient demographics, perioperative decision making, and location of the surgical procedure (hospital vs ambulatory surgery center), utilizing a cost-minimization analysis in a large national database.

Methods: Univariate analysis and multiple linear regression were performed to determine which patient and surgical variables were the largest cost drivers for ACLR in the United States according to the State Ambulatory Surgery and Services Database.

Results: The average cost for ACLR (n = 14,713) was $24,707 (standard deviation, $15,644). When patient variables were considered, younger age (P < .001), male sex (P < .001), Hispanic ethnicity (P < .001), number of chronic medical conditions (P < .001), Medicare insurance (P < .001), and quartile of household income (P < .001) were all associated with higher costs after ACLR. For operative variables, time spent in the operating room (P < .001), meniscal repair (P < .001), and use of general anesthesia alone (P < .001) were all associated with higher costs for ACLR. There was no significant difference between cost of surgery performed at a private surgery center and cost at a hospital-owned center. In the multivariate regression, the 3 variables with the greatest influence on cost of ACLR were use of isolated general anesthesia (associated with an increase of $2,049), Hispanic ethnicity ($1,828), and >1 chronic medical condition ($1,749). Male sex, time in operating room, and older age also significantly increased ACLR cost.

Conclusions: The greatest contributor to cost of ACLR was the use of general anesthesia alone. Time spent in the operating room increased ACLR cost by $108 per minute. Patient factors included greater age, male sex, Hispanic ethnicity, number of chronic medical conditions, Medicare insurance, and annual income. Meniscal repair and regional nerve block did not significantly affect cost as determined by multivariate regression.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures / economics
  • Anesthesia, General / economics
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / economics
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / economics*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods
  • Costs and Cost Analysis / methods
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Male
  • Medicare
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult