To assess the burden of total joint arthroplasties (TJAs) performed for symptomatic hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) in the Italian population.


We analyzed national hospitalizations and diagnosis-related group databases to compute incidence, annual percent change (APC), direct costs, and working days lost between 2001 and 2005 following TJA due to OA.


In 2005, we recorded a total of 41,816 (APC +5.4; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 5.1–5.8) and 44,051 (APC +13.4; 95% CI 13.1–13.8) hip and knee arthroplasties, respectively. Women represented the majority of patients undergoing TJA procedures (female:male ratio 1.7:1 for hip arthroplasties and 2.9:1 for knee arthroplasties). When analyzing the data by age groups, most of the patients were in the age groups 65–74 years and ≥75 years, although the highest increases were observed in those ages <65 years. Revisions accounted for 6,387 (APC +4.9; 95% CI 4.0–5.7) and 2,295 (APC +17.4; 95% CI 15.7–19.2) procedures for the hip and knee, respectively. Loss of working days in patients ages <65 years was estimated between 805,000 and 1 million days. Hospital costs increased from 741 million to 1 billion euros over the 5-year period (from 412 to 538 million euros for hip arthroplasties and from 329 to 517 million euros for knee arthroplasties). Rehabilitation costs increased from 228 to 322 million euros. Postoperative complications were estimated between 3.1 and 4.4 million euros. The average costs per patient were 16,835 and 15,358 euros for hip and knee arthroplasties, respectively.


The socioeconomic burden of TJAs performed for symptomatic OA in Italy is remarkable and calls for the adoption of proper preventive measures.