Metal, Ceramic or Poly?
Once you have decided to have a hip replacement your surgeon will advise you about the different types of hip implants available and how they are fixed in place.
Both these decisions are important, as the type of implant used and its method of fixation will impact on your life-style after the operation.
Unless you are aware of the alternatives you won't be in a position to have a meaningful conversation with your surgeon about your individual circumstances.
During the discussion you need to be abolutely clear about what is important to you. For example do you want an active life style? Is avoiding revision surgery a priority for you?
These are your choices and there are different types of implants available for each.
If your surgeon offers you an implant that has the wrong type of restrictions for you then ask him why or seek a 2nd opinion. It may be that your individual condition limits your options but it is imperative you explore options before surgery - not after!
Types of Implants
The ball part of the joint may be replaced with either metal or ceramic. Whilst the cup side will either be made of the same material or of polyethylene (known as poly for short). This gives the choice of
The final choice is whether to have the femoral side made as a single unit or opt for a modular version.
Securing the Implant
There are two main techniques used in hip replacement fixation. These are cemented and uncemented (sometimes called press fit).
A third option is a hybrid. This uses one technique for the femoral head and the other for the acetabulum.
A Few Words of Caution
Payments to Doctors
A fairly recent study showed that many doctors who are paid significant sums of money by implant manufacturers companies fail to declare this when reporting research findings to their colleagues.
During 2007 such payments were around $117 million. Read more on payments to doctors and be sure to ask your doctor if he is being paid by the company whose products he is recommending.
Over the last few years a number of hip implants have been recalled from the market. These have usually involved metal-on-metal implants.
Of particular concern is the most recent Depuy recall - many of the people who recieved one of Depuy's ASR implants are now having to undergo revision surgery.