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Background Comprehensive national joint replacement registries with well-validated data offer unique opportunities for examining the potential future burden of hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) at a population level. This study aimed to forecast the burden of primary total knee (TKR) and hip replacements (THR) performed for OA in Australia to the year 2030, and to model the impact of contrasting obesity scenarios on TKR burden. Methods De-identified TKR and THR data for 2003–2013 were obtained from the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry. Population projections and obesity trends were obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with public and private hospital costs sourced from the National Hospital Cost Data Collection. Procedure rates were projected according to two scenarios: (1) constant rate of surgery from 2013 onwards; and (2) continued growth in surgery rates based on 2003–2013 growth. Sensitivity analyses were used to estimate future TKR burden if: (1) obesity rates continued to increase linearly; or (2) 1–5% of the overweight or obese population attained a normal body mass index. Results Based on recent growth, the incidence of TKR and THR for OA is estimated to rise by 276% and 208%, respectively, by 2030. The total cost to the healthcare system would be $AUD5.32 billion, of which $AUD3.54 billion relates to the private sector. Projected growth in obesity rates would result in 24,707 additional TKRs totalling $AUD521 million. A population-level reduction in obesity could result in up to 8062 fewer procedures and cost savings of up to $AUD170 million. Conclusions If surgery trends for OA continue, Australia faces an unsustainable joint replacement burden by 2030, with significant healthcare budget and health workforce implications. Strategies to reduce national obesity could produce important TKR savings.


School of Psychology

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.