Why do hip replacements wear out?
Hip replacements can go bad for a number of reasons. These include:
- Loosening of the hip replacement
- Infection of the hip replacement
- Breakage or wearing out of the implant
- Damage to the bone surrounding the implant
What is hip replacement loosening?
Hip replacement loosening occurs over time, and can cause problems with the normal function of the hip replacement prosthesis. When a hip replacement is placed into the body, it is either press-fit into the bone, or cemented into position. Either way, it is fit tightly into the bone of the thigh (femur) and pelvis so that the implant cannot move. When implants loosen, the hip replacement can begin to move small amounts. Usually this is associated with increasing pain and loss of motion experienced by the patient.
How long are hip replacements supposed to last?
Most hip replacements last an average of 20-25 years. Some hip replacements will last longer, while other hip replacement implants can fail much sooner. Occasionally hip replacement implants will fail immediately after surgery, while you may also hear about patients who have had implanted joints for 30 or more years with no problems.
Why is hip replacement loosening such a concern?
Both physicians and patients are very concerned about the problem of hip replacement loosening because a hip replacement revision surgery (replacement of a joint replacement) is a much more difficult operation. Hip replacement revisions are often not as successful as the first operation. After revision operations, patients tend to recover less overall motion of the joint. Also, the longevity of implant decreases with each revision. Therefore, physicians tend to avoid joint replacement surgery until absolutely necessary, and try to get as much mileage out of each replacement as possible.