The Amputee Coalition of America estimates that, as of 2017, two million people are living with limb loss in the U.S. This is a high number for such a seemingly uncommon procedure, but in reality it is much more common than expected, with doctors performing about 200,000 amputations each year. And, naturally, each amputation necessitates a prosthetic limb.
A prosthesis (also called a prosthetic limb or artificial limb) is a substitute for a limb lost through a congenital defect, accident, traumatic injury, or illness. Among the illnesses, the main causes of limb loss are vascular disease – diabetes and peripheral arterial disease.
Curious about which prostheses are most popular among physicians? Here are the top 25 most common prostheses by total number of claims:
25 Most Common Prosthetics by Total # of Claims
Description of Prosthetic
Total # of Claims
Total # of Services
Breast prosthesis, silicone or equal
Prosthetic sock, multiple ply, below knee
Addition to lower extremity, below knee, total contact
Addition to lower extremity, test socket, below knee
It's evident that the most common prosthetics fall into two categories:
1. Breast Prostheses
The number of women choosing to have mastectomies over breast-sparing procedures has been rising significantly in the U.S. — many citing a desire to avoid excess radiation treatments, biopsies, and mammograms.
Following the mastectomy procedure, some women choose to have breast reconstruction, but if a patient decides that breast reconstruction isn’t right for them, but still wants a breast shape, a prosthesis or breast form can help them look balanced without surgery. There are a wide variety of breast prostheses that typically serve as a replacement after a mastectomy, and many are featured in the list above.
2. Leg Prostheses
Amputation rates have been rising significantly in people under 65 with diabetes since 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a trend that is particularly strong for (1) so-called minor amputations of toes and feet (rising 62 percent from 2009 to 2015) and (2) major amputations, those done above or just below the knee — up by 29 percent.
Given this uptick, it's no wonder that "below the knee" prosthetic leg parts and sockets saw some of the highest number of claims in 2016. Below the knee, or transtibial, prosthetics are typically attached to an intact upper leg, just below the knee. They are fit with a socket, which is carefully molded around a plaster cast taken from the residual limb.
In these codes, it's apparent that sockets make up a large portion of the prosthetics market. This may be because a patient's residual limb is likely to change shape and size over time, so new sockets will be needed as the patient ages. But, with modern technology, more precisely-fitting sockets are now in the works, as developers have the ability to scan a patient's residual limb with lasers and use 3-D printing to create an exact fit.
Anticipate demand for certain equipment or medical devices based on the procedures a provider conducts most often. Analyze the total number of procedures based on category or code.
Confirm installations of X-ray machines, CT scanners, MRI machines, and other medical devices. Review component histories such as implementations of high-voltage generators, image receptors, and other parts.