As the years go by and the body begins to enter its old age, it’s only natural for aches and pains to begin to appear. Many older people will begin to notice issues with their joints, in particular, and the hip is one of the most commonly affected areas, requiring treatment.
More than 175,000 people undergo hip replacement surgery every year for a variety of reasons, and this surgery can be life-changing, helping to alleviate pain and suffering, help with movement, and prevent further damage being done to the hip joint itself.
With a hip replacement or implant, damaged or diseased parts of the joint are removed or smoothed out, replaced or covered over with pieces of metal, plastic, or ceramic that mimic the way the joint functions. Studies show that this surgery can help people live longer and massively improve their quality of life.
As with other areas of medicine, we’ve seen big advancements in how hip replacements work as time goes by, leading to more successful surgeries and better results for patients. Some risks still exist and the process isn’t perfect, by any means, but great strides have been made, as shown below.
One of the greatest advancements of modern technology when it comes to hip replacements and implants is the ability to actually custom-design and create these implants before surgery even takes place. Professionals are able to make use of X-rays and scans from patients to prepare perfectly-fitting implants ahead of time.
In the past, more general, one-size-fits-all implants were prepared and had to be forced into place, sometimes by removing excess bone and potentially leading to movement issues or limitations if the implant didn’t fit quite right. However, new technologies have changed the game completely, allowing for precise, tailor-made implants to be prepared. This results in better fits, less boneless, wider ranges of movement for the patient, and a more satisfying conclusion overall.
We’ve seen some big changes in the materials that can be used for hip replacements too. In the past, metal alloys or plastics would have to be used to create the new, artificial parts of the joint, but these days, surgeons can opt for even more materials. Modern hip replacements may involve the use of ceramic, advanced plastics, and stronger, tougher metal alloys than ever before.
These new materials allow hip implants to be more durable and long-lasting, with fewer risks of complications and a reduced need for additional surgery. In short, making use of these more modern materials helps to make hip replacement surgeries more effective and efficient in the long term, with better results for every patient.
We’ve even seen changes in the way that new implants are fixed in place when carrying out hip implant or replacement surgeries. Typically, during a hip replacement, the ball of the joint is removed and a new artificial ball and socket are inserted. In the past, acrylic cement was the only option to fix the new parts of the joint in place.
Acrylic cement is still used in some cases, but nowadays, surgeons have more options at their disposal. It’s actually becoming more and more common in hip replacements for the new parts of the socket to be inserted without any kind of cement or bonding agent at all. Instead, the bone is simply left to grow and meld with the new implant, and in younger patients, in particular, this can produce much better results overall, with fewer risks of complications.
In the past, when a patient went to a doctor complaining of hip pains and problems, there weren’t too many options available to them. A total hip replacement could only really be done a certain way – with an incision into the side of the hip that allowed the surgeon to gain access to the bone. This could raise the risk of muscle and nerve damage in the area, as well as leading to quite long recovery times.
These days, however, surgeons are using newer, smarter techniques and surgical methods to reduce the recovery times and lower the risks associated with the procedure too. This gives patients more possibilities and more options to choose from when consulting for their hip replacement surgery and trying to find the right surgeon.
A Frontal Approach
As explained above, in the past, hip replacement surgery had to be performed by making an incision in the side of the hip. This involved cutting through the muscles around the hip and detaching them from the bone in order to access the joint itself.
In modern times, however, surgeons are able to take the ‘anterior’ approach to hip surgery, approaching from the front of the hip, rather than the side or rear. This means that the muscles don’t need to be cut, with way less risk of soft tissue damage and faster operation overall. It also contributes to speedier recovery time and less discomfort for the patient.
We’re starting to see robotics become a more integral part of many areas of modern medicine, with robots able to offer pinpoint accuracy and flawless results when programmed to perfection. Since hip replacement surgery relies so heavily on the precision of the surgeon, it’s easy to see how robotics can help out in this area.
For a successful hip replacement, the implant needs to be positioned just right. Even the finest of surgeons can be off by a few millimeters, but with robotic technology, it’s becoming easier and easier to insert implants in exactly the right way into every patient. This leads, once again, to reduced risks for the patient and a more successful surgery overall.
Modern advancements are having a big effect across the medical world, and it’s inspiring to see how new changes and technologies are improving the success rate of these important operations. Getting a hip replacement can be an intimidating experience for many, but with these new advances, patients can enjoy more confidence and peace of mind than ever before.