How Much Does an ACL Replacement Cost?
One of the most common knee injuries people suffer is a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). This ligament is one of the major four ligaments located in the knee that connects the bones of the knee together. When the ACL is injured or torn, there are many options to fixing it, and surgery is not always the best option.
Knee replacement surgery cost:
- Without insurance, the cost of a knee replacement will range from $20,000 to $50,000. This cost depends on the cost of living in your area, the doctor you choose, the hospital you choose, the extent of the injury, and the need for physical therapy.
- If you have insurance and only pay a co-pay or a percentage of the bill, your costs will be anywhere from $800 to $3,000. Since this procedure is deemed medically necessary, it should be covered.
- According to this AARP.org article, the cost of ACL surgery in 2008 was $45,783. They note that the average patient will stay in the hospital anywhere from three to five days.
$40,000 to $65,000
$15,000 to $24,000
$9,000 to $15,000
$6,000 to $11,000
$5,000 to $10,000
$8,000 to $12,000
$12,000 to $17,000
What is going to be included?
- The initial doctor’s visit in which the doctor orders tests and discusses your options is included in this estimate.
- Also included is the testing (most commonly an MRI) used to determine the extent of the injury.
- The largest part of the cost is the actual surgery, during which the doctor will completely replace the ACL, not simply repair the existing one. This is done by using cartilage from a cadaver or from a different part of the patient’s body.
- ACL surgery is usually out-patient, meaning there is not normally a hospital stay beyond post-op.
- The average knee replacement recovery time is going to take anywhere from one to three days inside of the hospital. Once the patient gets home, physical therapy may be needed up to three months depending on the complexity of the surgery. After three months, everything should get back to normal again. Those who have a job that doesn’t require any heavy lifting can be back and working in less than three weeks.
- After ACL replacement surgery, physical therapy is needed to improve range of motion in the knee.
What are the extra costs?
- Separate fees may be applied such as the MRI that is ordered by the doctor, the initial MRI and the surgeon fee for the operation done in the hospital.
- Depending on the hospital, additional services such as anesthesia and a facility fee may be applied.
- If there are any complication during the surgery resulting in a post-op hospital stay, there will be extra charges.
- Equipment, such as crutches and a knee brace, is necessary. This is sometimes covered by insurance but not always.
- There are cases where the ACL replacement does not take and the surgery needs to be redone.
- After the replacement has been done, physical therapy may be required for the next few weeks. Depending on the severity of the replacement, the length of the sessions will vary.
Tips to know:
- ACL replacement will have many pros and cons that one should know about. For starters, an ACL replacement surgery can help return a person back to athlete levels. This is ideal for those that still participate in sports. The surgery may also protect those from damage to knee cartilage in the future, and the knee will feel as if it’s back to normal.
- As for the cons, the surgery may not be 100% effective. In some circumstances, patients have found that the surgery didn’t work up to expectations. After the surgery, complications can occur that can make the situation worse.
- Some of the complications that can occur during the surgery include a failure of the graft, which can lead to a reconstructive surgery down the road. Another common complication that occurs are infections. Infections commonly happen to those that receive donor grafts. As far as complications go, 90% of these type of surgeries go according to plan.
- ACL replacement surgery is ideal for those that want to return back to high-level sports such as basketball. It’s also ideal for individuals that want to avoid therapy such as conservate therapy.
- Always make sure that you research the surgeon that will perform the surgery. Studies have shown that people who select an experienced surgeon will have a lesser risk of complications down the road. Try to find a surgeon who has performed at least 40 to 50 knee surgeries in a year.
- Knee surgery will help reduce the pain and allow you to become more mobile. Don’t think that it will make you feel like a teenager again. Be realistic with your outcomes because overdoing it after a surgery can cause massive problems.
Knee replacement recovery:
- After the patient is released from the hospital, physical therapy will start. They will focus on the whole body to help you build up your strength. These exercises will include riding a stationary bike, lifting weights and performing various exercises.
- If you fail to head to physical therapy, your functioning won’t improve. There won’t be any sort of pain, but if you weren’t able to walk up the stairs before, you won’t be able to do it after.
- Some exercises and activities may have to be given up after the surgery. For example, dancing or biking may have to stop.
- A prostheses will last up to 20 years. Less than one percent of prostheses will fail in the first 12 months.
How can I save money?
- If you have no insurance, most hospitals will negotiate lower prices if you pay cash up front. They can also provide payment options for those who can’t afford the initial price.
- Because ACL tears are so common, many people have used equipment available at a lower cost.
- Consider other options that don’t require surgery. Also, talk with a doctor to see if the surgery can be pushed ahead to the future. There are some risks that can occur if the surgery is held off, but it will depend on the situation.