Survey reveals surprising attitudes about joint replacement

DePuy, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, today released the results of a Harris Interactive® survey showing that, when asked about joint replacement, nearly half of surgery candidates said they were holding off on surgery because they were waiting for more advanced surgical techniques. Computer assisted surgery (CAS) may be their answer, as two-thirds of orthopaedic surgeons polled said CAS represents a significant advancement in the field, and more than half believe integrated CAS systems represent the future.

Osteoarthritis is the leading reason behind joint replacement surgeries, and this survey was commissioned to determine the impact of osteoarthritis on the lives of patients as well as the current needs and barriers to surgical treatment approaches. Nearly 70 percent of osteoarthritis sufferers surveyed experience persistent, daily pain, leading to lack of sleep, depression and a decrease in work productivity. Although 81 percent of patients use an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription product to ease pain and increase motion, over half feel their current treatment is only somewhat effective in reducing their pain.

Of those who discussed joint replacement with their physician, 78 percent said it was recommended. However, most of these surgery candidates spoke with their physicians more than a year ago and have yet to undergo the operation. Fueling the delay of surgery are fears about potential follow-up surgeries and the possibility of incorrect joint alignment.

"Nearly 21 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, and we can only expect that number to grow," said William Barrett, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon with Valley Orthopaedic Associates in Renton, WA. "Patients don't need to continue suffering. The surgical advances they've been waiting for are here now with today's new integrated computer-assisted systems for total joint replacement. In my experience, the potential benefits seen with these technologies include reduced incision size, minimized soft tissue damage and a decreased risk of incorrect joint alignment."

Dr. Barrett is one of a growing number of surgeons worldwide using DePuy's new Ci™ System, the first and only totally integrated surgical navigation system for total knee joint replacement that provides proprietary hardware, software and instruments designed to work together to enable more accurate minimally invasive procedures.

"We designed the Ci™ System to enhance and extend the orthopaedic surgeon's skill and experience by offering an unobstructed view of the patient's knee during surgery, along with important data that assists in making surgical decisions," said Kevin Sidow, worldwide president, DePuy, Inc. "And patients can gain confidence knowing that, with the Ci™ System, their surgeon can view the results of surgical decisions before they are made."

The Ci™ System is especially critical technology as more patients opt for minimal incision surgery-a surgery that, by its nature, restricts the surgeon's ability to see the operative area.

Additional Survey Findings


  • When all osteoarthritis patients were asked specific questions about joint replacement surgery:


    • more than 60 percent (61) reported a concern over the need for additional procedures following surgery.
    • 60 percent were afraid of incorrect joint alignment associated with surgery.
    • 56 percent were concerned about the length of the recovery period.
    • nearly 50 percent (49) were concerned about the pain associated with recovery.


  • Seventy-two percent of osteoarthritis patients are looking for a treatment approach that is better than what they are currently following.


  • More than 80 percent (83) want their physicians to offer them the latest treatment approaches available.


  • When deciding what treatment approaches to follow, osteoarthritis patients are most likely to be influenced by a treatment's ability to ease pain (87 percent) and increase motion (83 percent).



  • Four out of 10 orthopaedic surgeons (41) report that fear of joint dislocation impacts how often they recommend joint replacement surgery.


  • Over 60 percent (62) reported that precise joint alignment offered by an integrated CAS system is a considerable or major improvement in the field.


  • Although orthopaedists may be very or extremely concerned about the possibility of incorrect joint alignment, over two thirds (67) report this complication rarely impacts how often they recommend surgery.


  • Over one third (37) of orthopaedic surgeons would be more likely to recommend a patient for joint replacement surgery if an integrated system were available in their practice.


Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online with baby boomer patients (531) and orthopaedic surgeons (106) residing in the U.S. between March 2 and 8, 2004. Qualified patients were between 50-65 years of age, diagnosed with osteoarthritis by a medical professional and never had joint replacement surgery.

Qualified surgeons were board certified in orthopaedic surgery, in practice between two and thirty years, spending at least 50 percent of time in direct patient care and treating at least five osteoarthritis patients a week. In order to project to the universe of orthopedic surgeons, weighting targets were applied. These targets were drawn from the current AMA master file of practicing orthopedic surgeons in the U.S.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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