Question:I know that orthopedic surgeons are reluctant to do a total hip replacement on younger adults. But aren't the newer materials and improved technology enough to help implants last longer now?
Answer:Failure of joint replacement implants is often the result of fatigue failure. The component parts just don't hold up forever. The stem of the femoral side of the implant is at greatest risk for fracture. Studies estimate this happens in less than one per cent of all cases.
Current devices have improved to meet the demands of a younger, more active group of adults in need of a hip joint replacement. Materials, design, and manufacturing of the implants have all advanced in the last 10 years. The risk of fatigue failure is less but the activity levels and demands of current patients has also increased.
More and more, younger adults are choosing to have a hip joint resurfacing procedure done instead of a total hip replacement. Hip resurfacing replaces the arthritic surface of the joint but removes far less bone than the traditional total hip replacement.
Resurfacing is a good option for some younger patients who are expected to need a second or revision hip replacement surgery. The resurfacing method gives greater function as they grow older and start to wear out the original hip replacement. Later, a total hip replacement is still possible.Thomas P. Schmalzried, MD. Why Total Hip Resurfacing. In The Journal of Arthroplasty. October 2007. Vol. 22. No. 7. Suppl. 3. Pp. 57-60.
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