A better understanding of artificial joint materials and individuals’ responses to them are key to improving hip replacement success.
When osteoarthritis (OA) damages a hip to the point that every movement causes pain, replacing the joint with a prosthesis can restore the ability to function pain-free. But for many people – particularly younger, more active ones – an artificial joint is not a permanent fix. Joint replacements can fail over time, often necessitating further, more difficult surgery. By better understanding what causes hip implants to fail – or alternatively what makes others last – researchers are gaining new understandings that may improve implant longevity and make them an appropriate and lasting option for more people.
While much of the research focuses on materials and design of the implants themselves, researchers are also examining individuals’ responses to implants, says Joshua Jacobs, MD, professor and chairman of orthopaedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. This could lead not only to improvements in design and materials but potentially to tests that could indicate the best implant for an individual before surgery and the use of agents to prevent implant problems after surgery.