Staying Safe This Winter

Crucial Information About Testing Your Hip Implant

If you have experienced a broken hip or have an orthopedic condition that has required a hip implant in the last few years, it is important to talk to your doctor about the safest, long-term option to meet your needs. For instance, today many surgeons prefer to use an implant made of ceramic and plastic, while just a few years ago the use of implants made of chrome-cobalt metal was common.

However, there were problems with the use of that design. Chrome-cobalt metal was used to form both the ball, located at the top of the femur and the liner inside the pelvis. Since the problems associated with that model were so well-known, many of them were recalled in August of 2010.

It is also important to note that not all patients who received the chrome-cobalt metal hip implants experienced trouble.It will still be useful to have regular exams of the hip to make sure that a problem has not been appearing without symptoms.  

Why Would a Hip Implant Fail Too Soon?

A hip implant is often able to last ten years or more. When a hip implant fails too early, it can be to any number of reasons. For instance, a bad fall at the wrong angle could damage the implant, as could excessive weight gain.

The artificial joint might not be able to work properly or safely if there was too much weight depending on it. Overstraining the new joint, through high-impact sports or other activities is another example. Your surgeon will usually go over what to expect in the days, weeks and months after your surgery.

 Common Tests  you May Receive

A common procedure you may receive is the Fatigue Endurance test. It determines the amount of endurance the existing implant has, often to form an opinion about whether or not a new implant is required. It emulates the stress that the implant in its current condition experiences during normal walking.

A simple X-ray of your hips in different positions may also help your doctor determine the severity of your issue. Depending on the type of implant you have, you may be allowed to receive an MRI, with metal artifact  reduction to compensate for the presence of any metal. Ultrasounds are a safe, painless method that uses sound waves to create an image, but the image is not always clear enough to form a diagnosis.

Your physician will have the final say as to whether or not you should get any testing, as specific information about your health, implant and medical history could impact the type of tests you receive.   

In conclusion, as a responsible patient, it is a good idea to understand the medical device testing you will be receiving and how long your implant has been used safely. By doing so, you are taking a pro-active step toward your good health in the future.