A recent BBC interview with Andy Murray on his return to competitive tennis following a hip replacement has thrown the spotlight on how long a hip implant is likely to last after surgery. Murray was quoted as saying his surgeon advised that his implant was likely to last just seven years due to the demands placed on it by his career as a professional tennis player.
For most people, however, their replacement hip is likely to last far longer as it will be subjected to fewer physical demands. So, what is the likely time for a hip replacement to last and what are the implications for patients?
Recent research on the lifespan of hip implants
A research study was recently published in The Lancet (Lancet 2019: 393: 647-54) by the Musculoskeletal Research Unit, Translational Health Sciences at Bristol Medical School based in Southmead Hospital. The research team carried out a comprehensive review of MEDLINE and Embase data, from time that records began to September 2017.
This was an important study as there had been little good quality, long-term evidence about the lifespan of hip implants in the past.
Researchers assessed articles showing 15-year survival rates of implants used in conventional hip replacement surgery for patients with osteoarthritis. It also reviewed reports from national joint replacement registries in Australia and Finland. Altogether, they assessed 140 eligible articles, containing data on 13,212 total hip replacements. National joint replacement registries provided data on an additional 215,676 hip replacements.
The team concluded that around 58% of patients can expect their hip replacement to last 25 years.
While the survey provides some useful insights, experts warn that the UK National Joint Registry wasn’t included in the research so some caution should be exercised in relation to the results as implants used in this country may differ from those in Australia and Finland.
Why is implant lifespan important?
Total hip replacement is now a routine surgical procedure. In the UK, there were 96,717 primary hip replacements in 2017 and 8,589 hip revision procedures.
In Ireland, according to the HSE, at least 4,500 hip replacements are carried out every year, usually on adults over 65.
Hip revision surgery is a procedure to replace an implant that has worn out or become loose or broken. Revision surgery is generally less effective at relieving pain and restoring function than primary hip replacements and there is a tendency for hip revision implants to fail more quickly.
The average age of patients receiving hip replacements in 2017 was 69 ,so the lifespan of their implant is an important consideration. With 58% of implants lasting around 25 years, it is likely that many of these patients will therefore not require hip revision surgery during their lifetime.
However, average life expectancy is continuing to rise so the lifespan of prosthetic implants remains an important consideration for orthopaedic surgeons.
Manufacturers of hip implants are continuing to introduce new technologies and develop longer lasting components so as life expectancies rise, it is likely that implants will last longer too.
Protect your new hip
In the meantime, if you have a hip replacement, here are some things you can do to avoid too much wear and tear on your new hip:
- Keep fit and maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid kneeling for long periods or sitting on low chairs.
- Be careful with physical activities that involve stop-start motions, twisting or high levels of impact stress.
- Avoid repetitive heavy lifting.
If you are considering a hip replacement, talk to a specialist surgeon who can give more information about the best types of hip implants for your individual circumstances.
Did you know that some hip replacements are now done as a day case, meaning you can leave the same day, or the very next day? Find out more >