KSAT.com--San Antonio, Texas—August 30, 2011
Total joint replacement may be one the most valued developments in orthopedics. It has evolved into a reliable and effective way to relieve pain and restore function to joints that have been damaged or destroyed by arthritis or injury. Joint replacement makes it possible for patients to resume their active lives, says the Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement experts at Hospital for Special Surgery, a world leader in orthopedics and rheumatology.
Although the best weight-bearing surface is human cartilage, when cartilage suffers major damage, artificial joints become an option. Before undergoing a joint replacement procedure, patients should learn from their doctor what the surgery involves, so they have realistic expectations. The team at Hospital for Special Surgery, whose surgeons have performed more hip replacements and knee surgeries than any other institution in the world, emphasize that it is a major operation. Hip replacement can be life-changing for someone who is debilitated by severe joint damage.
Today, there are a number of material options for artificial joints. Patients considering hip replacements should work with their surgeon to select the right type of implant design and material. When choosing a joint, doctors will consider factors such as the patient's age, weight, bone strength and bone shape, as well as lifestyle and activity level.
Today, a new joint can be made out of polished metal or ceramic, with some featuring a combination of plastic liner and cobalt-chrome or titanium backing.
Although researchers are constantly seeking ways to improve implant design and durability, today there is no clear-cut kind of implant that is viewed as superior. Most surgeons will agree that the decision about joint implant materials is individual and should be decided by the patient and doctor together. Says Dr. Mark P. Figgie, chief of the Surgical Arthritis Service at Hospital for Special Surgery, "I always spend a lot of time with my patients going over all the options and listening to them to learn what their needs and expectations are. The patients find the time we spend together talking about their needs and expectations invaluable. Once this process is completed, and I feel that they are sufficiently informed, it is always up to the patient to decide."