Issue: January 2014
Perspective from John G. Costouros, MD, FACS
January 01, 2014
2 min read

Rotator cuff repair delivers increased lifetime societal cost savings

Issue: January 2014
Perspective from John G. Costouros, MD, FACS
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The total estimated lifetime societal savings of the approximately 250,000 rotator cuff repairs performed annually in the United States is $3.44 billion, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. For all age groups, rotator cuff is cost effective and for patients younger than 61 years, rotator cuff repair produces financial benefits that offset the cost of surgery.

“The societal burden of rotator cuff tears is potentially significant, considering their impact on people’s ability to work and remain productive,” Lane Koenig, PhD, health economist at KNG Health Consulting and a study author, stated in a press release. “Fortunately, what this research enables us to do is quantify this value. It offers a new perspective to the body of information available about this condition.”

Koenig and colleagues constructed a Markov decision model to compare and estimate the lifetime savings of surgical and nonsurgical treatment of symptomatic full-thickness rotator cuff tears, according to the study abstract. They found surgical treatment carried an additional mean age-weighted total savings of $13,771 during the patient’s lifetime compared to nonsurgical treatment.

When the investigators compared repair to nonoperative treatment, the total societal savings was $77,662 for patients between the ages of 30 years and 39 years. The calculated net cost to society was $11,997 for patients between the ages of 70 years and 79 years. Koenig and colleagues found that surgery increased the quality-adjusted life years of all patients by a mean of 0.62 years.

They noted that the study does not suggest surgery should be performed for all patients with rotator cuff tears, but that surgery “minimizes the societal burden of rotator cuff disease.”

Mather RC. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2013;doi:10.2106/JBJS.L.01495.
For more information:
Lane Koenig, PhD, can be reached at 15245 Shady Grove Rd., Suite 305, Rockville, MD 20850; email:
Disclosure: The authors received support from the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, KNG Health Consulting and its partner IHS Global Inc. to conduct this study.