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Racial difference and zip code play an important role in who is a candidate for knee arthritis surgery, according to findings published in the October 2, 2003, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Also, whereas Caucasians are more likely to have the procedure than African Americans and Hispanics on the national level, the demographics change from city to city.
The newest study examined rates of knee replacement surgery among all fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries between 1998 and 2000. Over the 3-year period, 430,726 of the operations were performed. Caucasian women had the highest rate (~6 per 1000 people), compared with 5.37 per 1000 for Hispanics and 4.84 for African Americans. The disparities were greater for men: 4.82 per 1000 for Caucasians, 3.45 per 1000 for Hispanics, and 1.84 per 1000 for African Americans.