The Initial Impact of COVID-19 on Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

J Arthroplasty. 2021 Jul;36(7S):S56-S61. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2021.01.010. Epub 2021 Jan 13.


Background: The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic caused a massive disruption in elective arthroplasty practice in the United States that to date has not been quantified. We sought to determine the impact of COVID-19 on arthroplasty volumes in the United States, how this varied across the country, and the resultant financial implications.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries undergoing primary and revision total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and total hip arthroplasty (THA) from January 1st through March 31st, 2020 with 74,080 TKAs and 54,975 THAs identified. We calculated the percent drop in average daily cases from before and after March 18, 2020. We then examined variation across states in arthroplasty case volumes as it related to reported COVID-19 cases, the impact of COVID-19 on length of stay and percentage of patients discharged home. Finally, we calculated the revenue impact on hospitals and surgeons.

Results: There was a steep decline in TKA and THA volumes in mid-March of 94% and 92%, respectively. There was a significant variation for arthroplasty case volumes across states. We found minimal change in length of stay except for primary THAs with fracture going from 5 + days to 4 days. We saw an increasing trend in discharge to home with the greatest effect in primary THAs with fracture. The total daily hospital Medicare revenue for arthroplasty declined by 87% and surgeon revenue decreased by 85%.

Conclusion: The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant decrease in arthroplasty volumes in the Medicare population with a resultant substantial revenue loss for hospitals and surgeons.

Keywords: COVID-19; arthroplasty trends; elective surgeries; financial implications; hospital length of stay; surgical volume.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Medicare
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States / epidemiology