Top 10 Most Common Surgeries in the U.S.

Over 48 million ambulatory surgery cases and 10 million inpatient procedures take place annually in the United States. We explore the top 10 surgical interventions ranked by frequency along with insights into each surgery’s medical purpose and patient populations.

Cataract Surgery

A cataract causes the eye’s clear lens to become cloudy resulting in deteriorating vision and difficulty with activities like reading and driving. During cataract removal surgery, the ophthalmologist uses precision instruments to break up the natural lens using ultrasonic waves or a laser before removing the fragmented lens by suction. An artificial intraocular lens implant is inserted in the empty capsular bag restoring focusing ability often with enhanced clarity.

Over 24 million Americans have cataracts and with age being the top risk factor, over 50% of people are affected by age 80. The procedure takes 15-30 minutes restoring sight immediately with over 98% effectiveness making it the most common eye surgery. Around 3.6 million cataract surgeries are performed yearly as of 2020 with high growth expected as population longevity expands.

Caesarean Section

A Caesarean section or C-section procedure delivers a baby through incisions made in the mother’s abdomen rather than vaginally. It is conducted when vaginal birth presents substantial health risks to mother or baby. Reasons include pregnancy complications like high blood pressure, fetal distress, maternal infections, excessive bleeding, placental issues or abnormal fetal positioning as well as prior uterine surgeries.

Over 1.2 million babies in the U.S. are delivered annually via C-section comprising 31.8% of nationwide births as recorded in 2020. Though usually safe, it poses higher risks of bleeding, infection and embolism than natural birth. The operation has evolved tremendously with faster recovery happening in just 2-4 days.

Knee Arthroplasty

Knee arthroplasty refers to joint reconstruction procedures often involving replacement components. A knee replacement surgically resurfaces diseased knee bones to implant artificial joint parts in total knee arthroplasty or just the knee-cap surface in partial knee replacement depending on the damage extent. Surgeries treat disabling knee arthritis, traumatic injuries or deformities causing chronic pain and immobility not alleviated by other therapies.

Over 1 million knee replacement surgeries take place nationally every year as of 2020 projections restoring knee stability and allowing many recipients to resume walking, golfing, swimming and low-impact activities for over 20 years based on implant lifespan.


Hysterectomy is surgical removal of the uterus requiring 5-7 days hospitalization and 6 week recovery involving lifting restrictions. The surgery becomes essential to treat chronic uterine bleeding, cancers, fibroids causing pain/pressure and uterine prolapse in women primarily over age 35. Pelvic adhesions and endometriosis often co-occur necessitating more extensive procedures.

Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies happen annually comprising over 17% of all surgeries on women 35 years and above based on recent statistics. Minimally invasive varieties utilize smaller abdominal incisions but may still trigger menopause. Alternatives involving uterine preservation are always preferred when reasonable.

Hip Replacement

Total hip arthroplasty surgery alleviates advanced hip arthritis restoring joint functionality through implant components replacing the damaged hip ball-and-socket. Surgeons remove arthritic femoral head capping femur end while a hip socket component is affixed into pelvic acetabulum. The new artificial ball then articulates freely enabling smooth hip mobility pain-free.

The operation rectifying disabling joint deterioration improves mobility, balance and quality-of-life. Over 330,000 yearly procedures show over 90% component survival at 15 years by resisting wear. Ideal for older patients, age-appropriate physical therapy maximizes post-surgical functionality and implant longevity.

Breast Biopsy

Breast biopsies surgically extract suspicious tissue samples from breasts when abnormalities get detected via self/clinical breast exams or imaging like mammography and ultrasound. Samples undergo pathology analysis to definitively diagnose presence, stage or grade cancers guiding appropriate treatment. Percutaneous image-guided methods allow minimal invasiveness.

Over 1.2 million U.S. breast biopsies occur annually crucial for early malignancy detection in new cancer cases totaling 252,710 yearly. Screening advancement now catches over 50% of breast cancers early when 5-year survival rates exceed 90% outlining biopsy importance. Further research improves diagnostic accuracy to reduce unnecessary procedures.


Advancing surgical tools and techniques continue to provide safe, effective interventions restoring vision through cataract removal, delivering babies when risk compels via cesarean section and replacing worn joints revitalizing quality of life. Concurrently enhanced screening modalities like biopsies detect cancers early when they remain most treatable. Collectively over 10 million key surgeries support public health annually in the U.S. with growing innovation promising continually elevated care standards matched with optimal patient outcomes.


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