Relative value units (RVUs) are used for ensuring that physicians are appropriately reimbursed based on case complexity. While past research has elucidated that surgeons are reimbursed at a higher rate for primary total knee arthroplasty (TKA) versus revision TKA, no study has explored differences in reimbursements between single-component and double-component revisions, considering a double-component revision is likely to require more effort/skill as compared with single-component revision.
The 2015 to 2016 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program files were queried using Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for single-component revision TKA (CPT-27486) and double-component revision TKA (CPT-27487). A total of 1,962 single-component and 4,184 double component revisions were performed during this period. Total RVUs, RVU/min, and dollar amount/min were calculated for each case. The mean RVU was 21.12 and 27.11 for single-component and double-component revision TKAs, respectively. A statistically significant difference was noted in mean operative time (single component = 100.44 vs. double component = 144.29; p < 0.001) between the two groups. Single-component revision had a significantly higher mean RVU/min (0.267) versus double-component revision (0.223).
The reimbursement amounts calculated for single-component versus double-component revisions were per minute ($9.58/min vs. $8.00/min), per case ($962.22 vs. $1,154.32), and per day ($5,773.32 vs. $4,617.28) with a projected annualized cost difference of $184,966. Orthopedic surgeons are reimbursed at a higher rate for single-component revision TKAs as compared with double-component revision TKAs, despite the higher complexity and longer operative times required in the latter. The study highlights the need for a change in the RVUs for either double-component or single-component revision to ensure reimbursement per unit time is adequate for performing a complex case such as double-component revision TKA.