Veteran newsman Brian Williams’ knee surgery raises questions about cost, durability

Veteran newsman Brian Williams' knee surgery raises questions about cost, durability

Patients undergoing total knee replacement surgery have plenty to worry about, given the costs and uncertain results of the procedure, but the knee implants are getting a bit of good press in the wake of a knee surgery undergone by veteran journalist Brian Williams.

Within 24 hours of his surgery, Williams was "up and around," and his friends at NBC’s Nightly News said there had been rumors that Williams had "made 2 laps around the nurses’ station, taking the first test drive on his new titanium knee."

With the recent Medicare reports on the varying costs of medical procedures, the spotlight has gotten a little hotter for healthcare providers in the U.S. As a very common procedure, knee replacement surgeries have seen their share of scrutiny.

In a report last week NBC Nightly News noted that such procedures can cost patients anywhere from $23,000 to $70,000, depending on factors such as age, condition and where the procedure is performed. The variability can be of concern to patients who often don’t get the price tag ahead of time, or those who bear the costs of the surgery out of their own pockets.

The good news, however, is that knee implants used in replacements have a better track record now than they have in the past.

"In the beginning days of total knee replacement, we would say 10 years and you’re lucky; 15 is great," Dr Russell Windsor of the Hospital for Special Surgery told the news program. "Now, we are beginning to see 20, 25-year, even 30-year survivorship."

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