By: 6 October 2014
Death rates halve as joint replacement numbers increase

While more joint replacements than ever before were carried out in 2013, mortality rates have halved since 20031 and for most patients, the risk of having the implant replaced within ten years was less than 5%2.

The National Joint Registry (NJR)’s 11th Annual Report shows that while more joint replacements than ever are taking place (205,6863), the numbers of people dying following surgery have halved and, for most patients, the risk of having the implant replaced within ten years was less than 5%.

NJR’s Medical Director Mr Martyn Porter said: “Against a backdrop of joint replacement surgery success, surgeons must now focus on evidence-based practice more than ever in order to achieve even better results for patients.

“Electing for joint replacement is more popular than ever before. The report demonstrates this not only in terms of the number of people having joint replacement surgery year on year but that, for most patients, revisions rates of less than 5% at ten years after implantation can be achieved.”

The report, launched in September, at the first-day of the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) congress in Brighton, also includes analysis of more than 1.6 million joint replacement records and high-profile research demonstrating that mortality following both hip and knee replacement surgery has halved since 2003.

“Whilst standards in British orthopaedics are high, I must encourage my colleagues to scrutinise and engage with NJR data on a regular basis to evaluate where additional benefits for patients can be maximised. This can be achieved through evidence-based evaluation of the proposed implant, the way in which it will be fixed into place in patients of a particular, age, gender and health,” continued Mr Porter.

“This is particularly relevant to those operations where reoperation rates are known to be higher, for example, partial knee replacement. In these consultations, surgeons must engage patients in the decision-making process so they are fully aware of the benefits and risks associated with each type of procedure.”

NJR Chairman Laurel Powers-Freeling concluded: “We are delighted that the NJR can demonstrate, through its annual report that an evidence-based approach to medicine results in better patient safety and patient outcomes.

“The registry is committed to working with all those involved in joint replacement to provide data that can aid collaborative decision-making between surgeons and patients as well as robust decision-making in regards to evaluating implant, surgeon and hospital performance as well as service delivery.”



  1. NJR studies show mortality rates for hip replacement have dropped from 0.56% in 2003 to 0.29% in 2011 and from 0.37% to 0.2% for knee replacement.
  2. Based on analysis of hip and knee joint replacement. Ankle replacement outcomes data is only available up to three years.
  3. A total of 205,686 hip, knee, ankle, elbow and shoulder joint replacements were carried out in 2013.