Mary Elizabeth Dallas
People have surgery for many reasons. Sometimes it's to ease pain. Other surgeries are done to treat a disease or help the body work better. Surgeons may also need to operate to look for problems. In many cases, surgery saves lives. Some operations are performed much more often than others. The 10 most common surgeries in the United States vary widely in terms of condition treated and cost.
Every year about three million people in the United States have surgery to remove cataracts. Cataracts are common among older people. Half of all Americans develop one by the time they're 80 years old. A cataract causes the eye lens to become cloudy. This causes vision problems, and surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. During the operation, the surgeon removes the lens of the eye and replaces it with an artificial one. This lets the person see more clearly. People who have cataract surgery can usually go home shortly after the procedure, without an overnight stay in the hospital. Cataract surgery costs $2,300 to $3,000.
Almost 1.3 million pregnant women have their babies by C-section in the United States each year. Women with health issues may plan to have a C-section for safety reasons. Others may need a C-section if problems develop during pregnancy, like high blood pressure. Or a problem might develop during delivery. This could involve the position of the baby, placenta, or umbilical cord. A C-section costs about $13,000. That's about $4,000 more than a vaginal delivery.
More than a million Americans have joint replacement surgery every year. This includes about 720,000 knee replacements and 330,000 hip replacements. Doctors also do this surgery on other joints, like the shoulder and ankle. During this operation, the surgeon removes the damaged joint and replaces it with a new, artificial one. The surgeon may replace the entire joint or just part of it. People with joint damage, typically due to some form of arthritis, often have this operation. On average, joint replacement surgery ranges from $16,500 to $33,000.
Doctors perform more than a million circumcisions on newborn boys in U.S. hospitals every year. This surgery removes the skin that covers the head of the penis. Circumcision isn't medically necessary. But it can reduce a boy's risk for certain infections and possibly cancer of the penis. Some newborns have the procedure for their family’s religious preferences or for social reasons. The average cost of a newborn circumcision is about $250.
There are more than 670,000 surgeries in the United States every year to repair certain types of broken bones. The type of break and how bad it is will determine whether you need surgery to fix it. During surgery, the doctor may use screws, metal plates, and rods to keep sections of bone together so it can heal. The cost of surgery to repair a broken bone also depends on which bone is broken and how badly. For instance, surgery to repair a small wrist bone is about $8,000. Fixing a broken hip can cost thousands more.
Angioplasty, also referred to as PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention), is a procedure to open coronary arteries clogged with plaque. These are the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Doctors do about 500,000 PCIs every year. Angioplasty restores blood flow to the heart, which eases chest pain and reduces the risk of heart attack. Sometimes the surgeon also needs to scrape off plaque from inside the artery wall. The name for this is atherectomy; it can be done at the same time as angioplasty. PCI can take 30 minutes or several hours. It usually requires an overnight hospital stay. The procedure costs about $20,000.
Some people who have an angioplasty also have a stent put inside their artery. A stent is a wire mesh tube. It helps keep the artery open. It also reduces the chance the patient will have another blockage in the artery. U.S. doctors do about 454,000 of these surgical procedures each year. Stent placement costs about $18,000.
Every year about 500,000 women in the United States have a hysterectomy. During this operation, the surgeon takes out the uterus and sometimes the fallopian tubes and ovaries, too. Women who have a hysterectomy can no longer get pregnant. There are many possible reasons to have this surgery, including benign conditions like uterine fibroids and malignant conditions, such as endometrial cancer. The medical reason for surgery and type of hysterectomy are two of several factors that determine cost. Open abdominal surgery costs about $13,000. Costs are lower for vaginal and laparoscopic (minimally invasive) hysterectomy. The cost is typically higher if the surgeon uses a robot-assisted laparoscopic technique.
Every year about 460,000 U.S. residents have a cholecystectomy. The gallbladder is a small organ under the liver. It stores fluid called bile, which helps digest fat. Some people develop gallstones, small formations that can block the flow of bile to other organs. The usual way to treat gallstones is to remove the gallbladder. People can live a healthy life without this organ. How much the operation costs depends on the type of surgery. The surgeon can usually do the procedure with a laparoscope through several small incisions. If not, you might need open surgery, which involves a larger incision in the abdomen. The cost can range from about $24,000 for laparoscopic surgery to more than $32,000 for open surgery.
A coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is the most common open-heart surgery in the United States. About 395,000 people have this operation every year. Arteries supply oxygen and blood to the heart. When you have coronary artery disease (heart disease), plaque reduces blood flow to the heart muscle. A severe block can cause a heart attack. During the operation, doctors connect a healthy artery to the blocked one. This creates a new way for blood to flow to the heart muscle. The cost of CABG varies widely across the United States. The average cost is about $40,000.