If you are awaiting a knee replacement, you may wonder what it would cost to go private. In this post, we explain what a knee replacement typically involves and share pricing from leading private hospitals around the UK.
Knee replacement surgery involves replacing your damaged knee joint with a prosthetic version. The damage typically happens as a result of osteoarthritis, which is the most common reason for needing knee replacement surgery in the UK.
The main aim of a knee replacement is to relieve your knee pain and improve your mobility.
Your consultant orthopaedic surgeon will consider what type of treatment will benefit you based on your current symptoms and your medical history. They'll often start by trying less invasive treatments. These could include physiotherapy or injections into your joint, steroid injections or hyaluronic acid. They may prescribe pain relief, give elasticated support and encourage you to use a walking aid. Losing weight and doing exercise can also improve your mobility.
Your surgeon will most likely recommend knee replacement surgery if these methods are ineffective. A knee replacement can help if you're experiencing severe knee pain, impacting your day-to-day life, preventing you from sleeping and making walking difficult.
Most people who have knee replacement surgery are between 60 and 80; however, younger people require them at times too. You could also have knee replacement surgery if you're older, as long as you're fit and healthy enough to recover from the operation.
Nuffield Health's data suggests that a knee replacement should last for about 15 years before you'll need to have knee revision surgery. However, studies such as this from the National Institute of Health and Care Research suggest that around 80% of knee replacements could last up to 25 years.
Orthopaedic surgeons often recommend waiting until you're older before operating to reduce the risk that you'll need knee revision surgery in your lifetime. The research is early, but it could mean that orthopaedic surgeons are willing to perform knee replacement surgery on younger patients.
Knee replacement surgery will help relieve knee pain and improve your quality of life no matter where you have it. However, a few advantages to opting for private knee replacement surgery exist.
Chronic pain can affect every aspect of your life and have an impact on your mental health as well. The pain relief that comes with a knee replacement operation can immediately improve your mobility, sleep and mental wellbeing. If you've been waiting for surgery for some time, your joint may also have suffered further damage, making your knee replacement surgery more complex. If you choose private knee replacement surgery, you can be seen more quickly.
Private treatment lets you choose the hospital you go to and which surgeon carries out your knee replacement surgery. Many orthopaedic surgeons work privately and in the NHS, and you can opt to go private but be treated in an NHS hospital. You may prefer to have your knee replacement at a private hospital, where you'll benefit from hotel-like accommodation, including ensuite bathrooms and higher-quality food.
In the NHS, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon oversees a team of doctors, and you'll see one of the team during your treatment. If you have private knee replacement surgery, you'll see the same consultant throughout the process.
Private healthcare companies invest heavily in the latest treatments and medicines that may not be available on the NHS. This could mean that your surgery is carried out robotically, or your new knee could be custom-made to fit you perfectly and reduce the long-term wear and tear on your knee joint.
When you pay for a private knee replacement, it's essential to check what's included in your quote. Most private healthcare providers will carry out further surgery at no additional cost if the need arises from your initial knee replacement surgery. However, some don't include post-surgery rehabilitation as standard and will discharge you back to your GP to arrange this.
Total knee replacement surgery is the most common type of knee replacement surgery, however, it isn't the only option. Your surgeon could recommend a partial knee replacement or resurfacing, depending on your circumstances and medical history. You'll need knee revision surgery if you've had a knee replacement before.
A total knee replacement operation involves removing the end of your thigh bone and the top of your shin bone. These are then replaced with an artificial knee joint, which could be made of plastic, metal, ceramic or a mixture of different materials.
Partial knee replacements are typically only carried out in younger patients with less damage to their knee joint. There may only be damage to one part of the knee joint, so that section is replaced whilst the remaining bone is left untouched.
If you've had knee replacement surgery in the past, you may need another operation when your knee implants reach the end of their life. Knee replacements will typically last for between 15 and 25 years. In revision knee surgery, your surgeon will replace the old implants with new ones.
Other surgeries could provide pain relief and improve your mobility without needing an artificial joint.
A washout is carried out arthroscopically and rinses your joint with saline. It can clear bits of loose bone that are causing pain in your knee joint. This tends to be less effective if you have osteoarthritis, which is the most common reason for needing a knee replacement.
In an osteotomy, your surgeon cuts your thigh and shin bone to reshape them. It aims to shift your weight onto an undamaged part of your knee joint.
A mosaicplasty is like the bone equivalent of a skin graft. Your surgeon takes cartilage plugs and healthy bone from a non-weight-bearing part of your knee and transplants them into the damaged part of your joint.
You may be reading this having had an initial appointment with an NHS consultant orthopaedic surgeon. If you haven't reached that stage, you may still have heard that NHS waiting times are at an all-time high. Statistics published in July 2022 show that there are currently 6.6 million patients waiting for elective surgery, with over 300,000 of those having waited for over a year. Whilst there aren't separate figures for knee replacement surgery, this gives you an idea of the waiting time you might expect.
The average cost of knee replacement surgery in the UK is £14,449 (August 2023). Of course, this can vary depending on several different factors.
Click here to learn more about the cost of private medical treatments in the UK.
Your hospital's location is one of the most critical elements in determining how much your knee replacement will cost. Private hospital fees in Central London reflect that consultant fees, staff wages, rents, and utility bills are all higher and will need to be factored into the cost of your knee surgery. It probably won't surprise you that the most expensive private knee replacement surgery we found was at the BUPA Cromwell Hospital in the South Kensington area of London.
Here's what a knee replacement will cost on average in several major cities:
If you have knee replacement surgery in a private hospital, you'll also benefit from their investment in the latest medical equipment and medications. You'll be able to choose your surgeon based on their expertise and track record in successful knee replacements, however, their experience will come at a cost.
If you've been on an NHS waiting list to see an orthopaedic surgeon and are thinking about opting for private knee surgery, you can choose to pay for your initial consultation to speed up the process. This will enable you to get a quote for your surgery so you can decide whether you want to get your new knee joint privately or stick with the NHS.
The cost of your first appointment will vary depending on your location and the consultant orthopaedic surgeon you choose. The Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), which collects data on private health providers, gives an average cost of between £175 and £250. However, we have seen prices of up to £300. Remember that this only relates to the cost of seeing your consultant for professional medical advice. It won't usually include the cost of any x-rays or scans you might need.
You have various options for paying for your new knee joint, which are designed to make private healthcare as accessible as possible.
If you have savings in the bank and are happy to spend them on replacing your knee joint, self-pay is an easy option. You can choose to pay for a private consultation or ask your GP to write a private referral letter for surgery. Your chosen provider will provide a quote, and you simply pay their invoices. These may be payable at different stages; for example, you might pay one before your pre-operative assessment and another once the surgery is complete.
A medical loan allows you to spread the cost of your treatment, so you don't have to pay a lump sum. This is ideal if you don't have savings but do have income that will allow you to pay the instalments. This will cost more if you repay over an extended period, as the loan will attract interest.
However, at least initially, many healthcare providers work with finance companies offering loans with 0% interest. This can be anything from a few months up to a year.
If you have private health insurance, this will allow you to access treatment quickly. However, it's essential to check whether your insurance company will cover the cost of your knee replacement surgery. If you took out your insurance before you experienced knee pain, the cost of your surgery would likely be covered.
If you had a history of knee problems before taking out your insurance, your health insurance company would likely exclude your knee arthroplasty from cover. This is because it will be classed as a pre-existing condition.
Choosing the right surgeon can be a bit of a minefield. You may have a few private hospitals in your area offering a range of knee surgeries. Choosing a surgeon with a good track record in the type of operation you need is important. If you need total knee replacement surgery, check how many procedures each consultant orthopaedic surgeon has carried out and their success rate. It's also worth checking whether they have had good results in partial knee replacement surgery and other treatments if you're waiting for professional advice on the type of treatment you might need.
The care offered by the hospital and its clinical professionals may also be a factor. Whilst the surgeon may be excellent, the hospital will provide a lot of your care and your accommodation. A private room in an NHS hospital will save you money but won't have the same facilities as a private hospital, so consider whether you're happy to pay more for an ensuite bathroom and a chef to cook your meals.
Patient review sites are becoming increasingly popular and can give you an insight into the kind of care you can expect from your surgeon. You can find out more about the different sources of information here.
The type of operation you have will determine the procedure your consultant orthopaedic surgeon follows. Some operations can be carried out by keyhole surgery, however, these tend to be procedures such as a washout which tend to be done when total knee replacement surgery isn't considered necessary.
Whether you have a partial or total knee replacement, the process leading up to your surgery will be the same. You'll have a pre-operative assessment, including blood tests, to check your general health and determine the type of anaesthetic you need.
You should also let your doctor know about any medication you're taking. Losing weight can help ease the pressure on your joint, reduce your risk of developing a blood clot and increase the chances that your knee replacement will succeed. It's important to eat healthily and do some form of regular exercise.
Any type of knee arthroplasty involves removing damaged bone from your thigh bone, shin bone or both and replacing it with an artificial joint. If you have a partial knee replacement (you may also see this as a unicompartmental knee replacement), only one part of your joint will be replaced. By contrast, total knee replacements use knee implants in both joint parts.
You'll be given antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection, and your anaesthetist will provide you with either a general or spinal anaesthetic. Your medical team will discuss the type of anaesthetic with you before surgery.
During the operation, your surgeon will cut into the front of your knee and remove the damaged bone. Then they'll insert the artificial joint and secure it into place. Some artificial joints have a coating that allows the surgeon to fix the implant to the bone. Otherwise, they'll fix it in place using bone cement.
They'll complete your knee replacement by closing the cut with stitches or clips and covering it with a dressing. A total knee replacement usually takes between 1 and 1.5 hours.
Immediately after your operation, you'll be monitored in the hospital to ensure there are no serious complications and given medication to reduce pain and swelling in your knee. The hospital staff will help you to start moving around. This will help them assess whether you'll need additional care when you go home. You'll be discharged once you're mobile and your pain is well managed.
You'll be less mobile for a few weeks after your operation, making you more vulnerable to blood clots and circulation problems. You may be given inflatable boots for the first couple of days after surgery. You'll also be asked to wear compression stockings for four to six weeks to prevent blood clots. You may also be given blood thinning medication or injections.
It would be best if you started getting mobile as soon as possible. This can be daunting, but the hospital physiotherapist will begin the process with you while you're still in the hospital. Walking around helps your recovery process as it means you can start strengthening your new knee joint and minimising scar tissue. You can use a walking aid to support you as you recover.
While it's important to keep mobile, it's also normal to feel tired after surgery. Get plenty of rest and sit with your leg raised, applying an ice pack to reduce the swelling. It can take a few weeks to recover from the surgery and up to a year before you fully recover. Some people experience a more extended recovery period of up to two years.
Your knee will take time to heal, but you can aid the process by doing any exercises the physiotherapist gives you, walking using your aid and getting plenty of rest. Some movements may damage your knee replacement, particularly twisting your knee, kneeling and sitting with your legs crossed, so you should avoid these. You may find it frustrating initially, but you'll get back to your normal lifestyle eventually.
If your knee becomes very stiff, this can signify that excessive scar tissue has formed, so seek medical advice if you're worried. You may need further surgery to reduce pain and swelling and prevent long-term problems.
In the past, consultant orthopaedic surgeons would carry out your knee replacement using a scalpel and put your new knee in place by hand. Recent developments in knee surgery mean that your surgeon could use robotic technology for greater accuracy and, potentially, a more straightforward recovery. There are two main types of robotic-assisted technology, each using a robot arm. These technologies can be used for either a partial or total knee replacement, and your surgeon will advise you on whether this type of operation is suitable for you.
In Mako™ robotic-arm assisted surgery, your surgeon controls and guides the robot arm to ensure total accuracy. The process starts with a 3D CT scan of your body weeks before your operation. This allows your surgeon to plan the procedure with incredible precision.
After reviewing the scan, your surgeon can identify damaged areas and measure them down to fractions of a millimetre, helping them to avoid removing healthy bone or smooth cartilage. The implant can also be placed accurately, giving you a better knee movement range. It can improve your prospects of making a full recovery and give you a shorter stay in hospital.
The NAVIO® system allows surgeons to assess your anatomy, decide on the size of your knee implant in advance, and determine precisely where it needs to go. This system differs from the MAKO™ technology as it includes scanning technology; you won't need to have a CT scan before your operation. This allows your surgeon to get an accurate picture of the contours of your knee, calculate how much bone to remove and plan where to place the implant.
During the operation, they'll remove bone using a robotic handpiece, insert the implant and balance the joint to ensure your knee is aligned correctly and will function well after surgery.
There are risks with any operation, and a knee replacement is no exception. Thankfully, these are relatively rare and tend to be minor. Your medical team will take precautions to avoid complications arising.
The most common complications are:
Infection control is a high priority in any hospital, however, it can still arise, mainly after you've been discharged. If you experience an infection, you'll need a course of antibiotics to resolve this.
Deep vein thrombosis (or DVT) can occur thanks to a lack of mobility after surgery. You'll be encouraged to keep moving and do your exercises, and you'll also need to wear compression stockings to keep your blood moving and prevent a blood clot.
Some people are allergic to the bone cement used to fix your knee replacement. You'll be given medication to control this.
Your doctor will advise you on the types of movements to avoid in the weeks after your surgery. This is because your knee replacement is particularly vulnerable to dislocation initially. Avoiding twisting and kneeling gives your knee time to strengthen and stabilise, reducing the risk of dislocation.
In most cases, a knee replacement will reduce your pain and help you to get back to your everyday lifestyle. However, some people can experience ongoing pain or stiffness in their knees after surgery unexpected bleeding can also occur. If this happens, the hospital will look at a patient's knee and assess whether further surgery is needed to improve things.
Many groups of private hospitals and independents offer knee replacement surgery in the UK. Their websites provide information on the procedures they carry out and whether there's a hospital local to you.
You can also get independent information from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which inspects hospitals in England and provide data on patient care. There is also a range of patient review sites, such as Doctify, Top Doctors, I Want Great Care and Care Opinion, where patients can leave reviews and comments about their treatment.
Here are the leading hospital groups offering knee replacements in the UK.
Nuffield Health is one of the UK's largest healthcare groups, with hospitals, clinics and fitness centres operating nationwide. They operate 36 hospitals across the UK, and 32 offer knee replacement surgery, so you'll likely be able to find a hospital close to home. Their approach is based on empowering their customers to improve their overall health and wellbeing. On their website, you can learn more about their approach to knee replacement operations.
Ramsay Health has been running private hospitals focusing on high-quality care in England since 1968. They offer you a choice of a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and a personal patient manager who'll also support you. You can have your partial or total knee replacement at one of 25 hospitals, and they also offer knee arthroscopy if this is the right option for you.
Spire runs 39 hospitals and 8 clinics across the UK, with treatments including knee replacement and rehabilitation. Some locations have a co-operative agreement with their local NHS services, so you may be able to opt for treatment at one of their hospitals as an NHS patient. They also offer virtual knee pain information evenings, which a specialist surgeon hosts. You can find out more about their knee replacement services and find a hospital near you on their website.
Circle Health operate 54 private hospitals in locations ranging from the north of Scotland to the Sussex coast. They pride themselves on patient-focused care and investment in the latest technologies, including robotics. Their knee replacement services are consultant led but delivered by a multidisciplinary team, and their fixed-price packages include aftercare.
HCA started life in the USA and opened its first UK hospital in 1995. They are mainly city-centre based with hospitals and treatment facilities in London and Manchester. They're also due to open a new hospital in Birmingham in 2023.
They offer more information about knee surgery and how much you can expect to pay on their website.
At myTribe, we create guides to help you make informed decisions about your private medical care.
Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.
NHS statistics show that there are currently 6.6 million people waiting for elective surgery on the NHS. Over 300,000 have remained for more than a year, and over 8,000 have been waiting for more than two years. Government guidelines state that you should be seen within 18 weeks; however, in practice, many people stay between 18 months and two years for surgery.
The average cost of a knee replacement in the UK is £14,449. The actual price can vary between £11,200 and £17,740, depending on several factors. These include your location, your surgeon's experience level, and your chosen hospital's investment in new technologies.
Yes. If you have medical insurance covering a knee replacement, you can have private surgery. You can also opt to fund your surgery as most private hospitals offer a self-pay option with a fixed quote.
You'll only know if you need a knee replacement when you've spoken to your doctor for a medical diagnosis. Your doctor may try less invasive treatments, such as physiotherapy or pain relief. However, you may need a knee replacement if you're experiencing severe pain affecting your mobility, preventing you from sleeping and stopping you from going about your normal day-to-day activities.
A knee replacement is a significant operation. You'll need either a spinal or general anaesthetic, and it will take you around six weeks to recover from the effects of the procedure itself. You'll also need rehabilitation, including exercises after surgery. You may not fully return to normal activities for around a year after the operation.
Any operation comes with risks, but your medical team will support and advise you on ways to minimise these.
A knee replacement should last 15 years, although new research suggests that some could last up to 25 years. Your surgeon will advise you on this, as some prefer to wait until you're older before operating. If your replacement knee starts to wear out, you'll need revision surgery.
You'll probably experience some pain after surgery as your knee joint heals. Your surgical incision will heal in about two weeks, and your knee may be sore for a few more weeks or months as you exercise and gradually increase your strength. Your doctor will give you pain medication to manage this. If you're worried about your pain, talk to your doctor as they can assess whether any further treatment is needed.