When it comes to new products on the market, the latest isn’t always the greatest. This goes for medical devices as much as anything else.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 800,000 hip and knee replacements are performed each year in the United States. Last year, the manufacturer of more than 200 orthopaedic products, issued a worldwide recall on one of its metal hip implants — after 93,000 patients had already been implanted with the faulty hip.
Dr. Anthony K. Hedley, an orthopedic surgeon at the AZ Center for Bone & Joint Disorders, said patients should not to be lured by the newest implants, but instead, opt for surgeons who use proven models.
“Hip and knee replacement surgery can be the key to maintaining an independent lifestyle, which I believe is important, regardless of age,” Dr. Hedley said. “Hip and knee replacements are highly successful surgeries when done right.”
One of the most important things a patient can do is choose a well-trained surgeon. Patients should feel they can trust the track record of their surgeon and trust the implants that surgeon uses.
“Patients should inquire about a surgeon’s experience and familiarity with the implant or system of his or her choice. When it comes to joint replacement, choosing the latest implant or technology on the market is not always the best choice. A proven track record is hard to beat,” Dr. Hedley said.
The biggest problem with orthopedic implants has been wear, both at the articulating surface, and with locking mechanisms. Newer articulating surfaces such as ceramic/ceramic or metal/metal have shown promise in testing labs but problems have arisen in with patients. These materials have proven to be highly sensitive to the surgeon’s technique, Dr. Hedley said.
“I believe the question patients considering joint replacement should ask is ‘How long will my joint last?’ not ‘How long will the incision be?'” Hedley said.
Dr. Hedley is on the medical staff at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix, which has been recognized two years in a row in U.S. News and World Report as a high-performing hospital in orthopedic care.
The first steps to prevention of orthopedic problems are to be good to your joints. Experts recommend regular exercise and prevent overuse of the same joint in your routines, wear properly fitted footwear, keeping your weight in check and making an appointment with your health care provider at early signs of knee or hip pain.