Hip Complications

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hip replacement infographicMillions of patients have benefited from hip replacement implants. Hip replacements can be used to treat conditions such as arthritis, fractures, and mobility issues. When hip replacements were first introduced, they were used primarily for severe hip conditions such as fractures and arthritis. However, advancements in hip replacement technology allow patients to receive relief from less severe conditions that many believed did not warrant hip replacement surgery.

While hip replacements can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life, they can also cause severe harm. A number of patients have experienced debilitating hip replacement complications. Additionally, inadequately-tested hip replacements have shown unexpectedly high failure rates.

This is partly due to the fact that hip replacements are now used in younger populations. A number of patients under the age of 55 are now receiving hip replacements. As a result, manufacturers use new designs to encourage enhanced mobility and a wider range of motion. In some cases, these innovative designs have caused more complications than previous models.

Types of Hip Replacement Surgery

There are three hip replacement surgery types. The type of surgery a patient receives depends on a variety of factors. Medical conditions, age, and lifestyle are all taken into consideration to determine the most effective type of surgery for each patient. Hip replacement complications are also associated with the type of procedure a patient receives. However, a number of patients experience similar complications among the three types of procedures.

Hip replacement surgery types include:

  1. Total tip replacement. This procedure replaces the entire hip joint. This includes the ball, socket, and femoral stem.
  2. Partial hip replacement. This procedure replaces only the ball, or head of the patient’s femur.
  3. Hip resurfacing. This procedure replaces only the socket of the joint. The ball of the joint is reshaped and covered with a cap.

Hip Replacement Debris

Metal-on-metal implants often result in metallic debris. Metal-on-metal implants feature metal surfaces on both the ball and cup portion of the implant. Over time, the metal components of the hip implant rub together. This causes fretting and corrosion. As a result, metallic debris can build up at the implant site.

In severe cases, patients can develop a condition called metallosis. Metallosis can lead to metal poisoning if the patient has metal sensitivity. It is believed that metallosis can cause significant damage to the heart, thyroid, kidneys, and nervous system.

Other hip replacement complications from metallic debris include:

  • Infection, inflammation, and severe joint pain
  • Necrosis, or tissue death, surrounding the implant
  • Loosening or total failure of the hip implant
  • Deterioration of bone surrounding the implant
  • Formation of cysts and pseudotumors, or tumor-like growths

Hip Replacement Failure

A number of patients experience total failure of the hip replacement. Various hip replacement complications can lead to device failure. Patients may experience dislocation of the hip replacement. Dense tissue surrounds the hip and helps to keep the joint in place. During hip replacement surgery, this tissue is removed. The removal of this supportive tissue can contribute to dislocation of the implant after surgery. Dislocation can then lead to failure of the device.

Over time, the components of the hip implant can loosen. This is a strong indicator of the need for revision surgery. Loosening can be caused by wear-and-tear or the failure of adhesive elements to hold the device in place. In some cases, loosening can be caused by severe conditions such as metallosis or osteolysis.

Hip Replacement Bone Complications

Osteolysis is a dangerous hip replacement complication. Osteolysis is bone loss that can occur within the implant site. This occurs when the patient’s body recognizes implant debris and attempts to remove it. Osteolysis is one of the most common hip replacement complications. Osteolysis is estimated to cause roughly 75 percent of hip implant failures.

View Sources

  1. Chew, Felix, et al. “Metallosis After Total Knee Replacement.”American Journal of Roentgenology. 170. (1998): 1556. Web. 1 May 2013. http://www.ajronline.org/doi/pdf/10.2214/ajr.170.6.9609173
  2. Edelstein, Yudell, Hyunsook Ohm, and Yale Rosen. “Metallosis and pseudotumor after failed ORIF of a humeral fracture.” Bulletin of the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases 69.2 (2011): 188. Academic OneFile. Web. 1 May 2013.
  3. McKee, Jennie. “Can surgeons win the fight against osteolysis and implant wear?.” AAOS Now. 7.5 (2008): n. page. Web. 1 May. 2013. http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/feb08/clinical5.asp
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