Hip Implant Failure in Women
Written by Faith Anderson on February 19, 2013
Common Hip Implant Problems
The study, published February 18 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, was funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and researchers involved in the hip implant study examined more than 35,000 surgeries at 46 hospitals in the Kaiser Permanente health system. According to the study findings, after an average of three years, 2.3% of the female participants and 1.9% of the male participants had undergone revision surgery to repair a problem with the original hip implant. “There is an increased risk of failure in women compared to men,” said lead author Maria Inacio, an epidemiologist at Southern California Permanente Medical Group in San Diego. “This is still a very small number of failures.” The most common problems experienced by the hip implant recipients included implant instability, loosening, infection and broken bones.
How Female Implant Recipients Differ From Men
Women tend to have smaller joints and bones than men, and therefore tend to need smaller artificial hip implants. Unfortunately, hip devices with smaller femoral heads – the ball-shaped part of the ball-and-socket joint – are more likely to dislocate and require repair with surgery. This finding explained some, but not all, of the differences between the men and women involved in the study. It’s not clear what other factors may have contributed to the disparity, but co-author and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Monti Khatod speculated that a greater loss of bone density in women could have played a role.
The Downfall of All-Metal Hip Implants
The failure of metal-on-metal hip implants in particular was nearly twice as high for women as for men. These all-metal devices, which were once touted as superior to older hip implant models, have been at the center of significant controversy lately, as serious concerns have been raised about their safety and effectiveness. Although they were promoted by manufacturers as being more durable than plastic or ceramic implants, several high-profile metal-on-metal hip implant recalls in recent years have led to a significant drop in their use. “Don’t be fooled by hype about a new hip product,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the nonprofit National Research Center for Women & Families. “I would not choose the latest, greatest hip implant if I were a woman patient.”