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Hip Replacement Basics

Hip Replacement basics

When you are suffering from chronic hip pain, one of the potential solutions you may consider is a hip replacement. As with any surgery, the best advice is to ask lots of questions so that you know as much as possible.

For instance, factors you and your doctor will want to consider when a hip replacement implant is chosen include things such as:

  • Does it allow for normal activities and motion?
  • How long will it last?
  • Does the device have a good track record?
  • Will it meet your lifestyle needs?
  • Is it a brand your surgeon knows and trusts?

Your doctor will look at these and other factors, such as fit of the device, arthritic damage to your joint, your activity level, weight and age, when choosing which device to use.


What Makes up a Hip Replacement implant?

While your hip joint is comprised of two main components, a hip replacement implant uses four parts to create your new hip.

Acetabular (socket) is a bowl-shaped piece usually made of metal; however, it can be made of ceramic or a combination of metal and plastic.

Acetabular liner fits into the acetabular component, allowing the femoral head (ball) to move easier in the socket. Typically, this is usually made of high-quality plastic.

Femoral head (ball) fits into the plastic-lined socket and attaches to the femoral stem. These are made of metal, plastic, ceramic or a combination.

Femoral stem attaches to the ball. This piece allows for the natural bone to grow and attach to it, replacing the femur.


What are Hip Replacement Devices Made of?

There are numerous models of hip replacement devices on the market. Chances are, your surgeon has a few brands and/or models he likes to use. One factor you and your doctor will look at is the make-up of the device.

In the United States, there are currently four types of total hip replacement devices available with different bearing surfaces, which include:

  • Metal-on-Polyethylene, where the ball is made of metal and the socket is made of a high-quality metal-free plastic called polyethylene or has a plastic lining. Implants made of metal and plastic are a commonly used device.
  • Ceramic-on-Polyethylene, where the ball is made of ceramic and the socket is made of plastic (polyethylene) or has a plastic lining. Ceramic-on-ceramic, where the ball is made of ceramic and the socket has a ceramic lining. Ceramic-on-metal where the ball is made of ceramic and the socket has a metal lining. Ceramic components are durable, but also less common. They may be a consideration for those with allergies to metal. Breakage problems were seen in older versions of the ceramic implants, but this has been changing in the newer versions.

Metal-on-metal, where the ball and socket are both made of metal, are no longer actively used. As of May 16, 2016, there are “no FDA-approved metal-on-metal total hip replacement devices marketed for use in the U.S.” There are, however, patients that received a metal-on-metal device prior to this date.

Problems have arisen with some metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. The metal ball and cup slide against each other during everyday use (such as walking or running) causing friction that wears off tiny particles of debris. The hip implants can shed metal particles into the body causing metallosis. Over time, the metal particles around some implants can cause damage to the bone and/or tissue surrounding the implant and joint.

Every hip replacement device has unique benefits and risks. Your orthopaedic surgeon will determine, based on his experience, which device offers you the most benefit with the least risk. (Please note, these are just some of the basics with hip replacement devices; there are many more to consider.)

Hip Replacement Resources

More blog articles related to hip replacements.


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