Ankle Joint Replacement Gaining on Traditional Fusion

The great thing about medical technology is the host of new options consumers have when body parts begin to wear out. Many patients are familiar with hip and knee replacements, but there’s a new kid on the block: ankle replacements. As patients decide what to do about deteriorating ankles they need to consider whether they should live with their current limitations, opt for traditional fusion, or elect to undergo ankle joint replacement which is increasingly common in the U.S.

A recent Wall Street Journal article by Laura Landro reveals that about 16,000 ankle replacements are being done annually. Stryker Corporation, one leading industry provider sells a 3‑part ankle devices used in replacement procedures. While the number of ankle replacements is growing, ankle fusions remain more common at 80,000 procedures a year.  Patients with severe ankle problems have other options. For example, those who suffer from arthritis or diminishing cartilage may use braces, anti-​inflammatory medicines or receive steroid shots.

Some physicians are encouraging younger patients to wait before having an ankle replacement as the devices have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years.  Patients also face the possibility of infection as a result of the invasive surgery. Costs, which run $40,000, are another concern though more insurance companies are approving the procedure.

Elective surgery shoppers remain a relatively small segment of the population: 1.5%. AudienceSCAN data shows that 12% of these consumers are age 65+ which is higher than average. These consumers over-​index when it comes to playing softball, going boating and setting out on the ice on a pair of skates. Their interest in high energy sports likely means they want to maintain good health and will undergo elective surgery to maintain their ability to stay active.

Magazine advertising may prove effective in reaching this audience. At least 30% of these consumers started an online search in the past year after seeing a TV ad, a rate which is higher than average. These consumers may appreciate the additional information provided in an in-​depth magazine native ad and then be interested enough to search for specific service providers and devices online.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.