One of the most important things you will want to discuss with your chosen hip surgeon is the type of hip replacement prosthesis he or she will be implanting. There is most certainly no single “best prosthesis” on the market.
Many manufacturers – including the ones listed on this site – create and sell many different hip implant models and components. The choice of prosthesis may not be left entirely to you, the patient, but it is still very important to understand which implant your surgeon recommends and why. You will then have an opportunity to do some of your own research or seek out additional opinions as to that particular implant.
The stem portions of most hip implants are made of titanium- or cobalt/chromium-based alloys. They come in different shapes and some have porous surfaces to allow for bone ingrowth. The ball portion of the implant is made of either an alloy (metal) or ceramic (which is a very strong metal oxide, not fragile pottery).
The acetabular socket into which the ball fits can be made of metal, ultra-high molecular-weight polyethylene (plastic), or a combination of polyethylene backed by metal.
The materials to be used in your implant will be chosen by your surgeon, based on many factors, including the criteria below.
Discussing Implants with Surgeon
Most manufacturers make several different hip replacement prostheses. And each surgeon has specific manufacturers and prostheses that they are more experienced and comfortable with. This is generally a good thing – you want your surgeon to know the implant like the back of his hand.
That said, you should question your surgeon to make sure that he or she is recommending not just his or her favorite device but the proper implant for your circumstances.
In your search for information about your hip replacement surgery, you may learn about different implants on the market. If you have questions about a specific implant, ask your surgeon to compare it to the implant he or she usually uses.
What criteria are considered when determining which implant is for you?
Your surgeon will consider your age, weight, lifestyle and severity of joint degeneration as well as your gender and/or your stature and the surgeon’s own experience before making a recommendation or choice as to which prosthesis might be the right one for you.
When matching an implant to your specific circumstances, the doctor will be looking at necessary and possible range-of-motion with the implant, stability of the implant and wear-resistance of the materials in light of your physical and lifestyle activity considerations.
What questions should be raised with the surgeon about the prosthesis prior to even scheduling your surgery?
A few questions you might want to ask your surgeon include:
- Do you prefer to use the newest implant or the most tested and popular implant? (You want an implant with a successful track record over a reasonable time period.)
- Do you use different implants depending on each patient, or are you most comfortable with using one type?
- How long have you been using the implant recommended for me? How many surgeries have you performed using this implant?
- Why is this implant the appropriate one for my circumstances?
The ideal hip replacement implant will allow for normal activities, normal motion, and last the patient’s lifetime in light of the patient’s specific lifestyle.
Related Forum Post: How to choose a surgeon and a prosthesis