Question

Bone & Joint Injuries

How long do artificial joints last?

A Answers (1)

  • AScott Martin, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered
    Like a pair of shoes, an artificial joint has a limited life span. The more demand your activities place on the new joint, the quicker it will wear out. With normal activity, most last 15 to 20 years. If you do regular high-impact exercise, your implant won't last as long. If possible, people under 60 are encouraged to delay the procedure because it is more likely that they will need later surgery to replace the implant—particularly if they are extremely active or overweight. Surgery to replace an implant, called revision surgery, is more difficult because there is less bone to work with after removing the first implant and more scarring of the soft tissues from the first surgery.

    Problems with artificial joints occasionally occur. For example, the manufacturer of a metal hip socket known as the Durom Cup suspended sales after surgeons reported patients experiencing pain following the implantation of this device. Some patients needed repeat surgery to replace it. Ceramic-on-ceramic hip replacements cause squeaking in some patients and have, rarely, been known to shatter under heavy pressure, depositing a significant amount of debris that must be removed surgically when such failures occur.
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