What Type of Hip Replacement Implant Is Best?

There are many orthopedic manufacturing companies that produce different implants used in hip replacement surgery. Most of these companies make several different hip replacement prostheses. Is there a way to determine which hip replacement implant is best?

hip replacement implant
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Hip Replacement Surgery

When a hip replacement surgery is performed, a damaged, worn-out hip joint is replaced with an artificial implant. The materials used in the artificial implant may vary, but they often include metal, plastic, or ceramic. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, and removal of the hip joint requires the surgeon to remove the ball and reshape the socket. The artificial implant is then positioned in the bone. The implant may be held in the bone by tightly wedging it in place, or it may be cemented into position. The type of fixation used will depend on the patient's bone health and the design of the implant.

Hip Implants

Asking orthopedic surgeons what hip replacement is best is like going to a car show and asking people which car is best. You'll find lots of different answers, and each person thinks they've got the right one. That is not to say that any one individual is right or wrong, but there are many factors, and sometimes different factors, that surgeons may consider when evaluating which type of implant they prefer to use.

One of the most important aspects of hip replacement surgery is determining the proper implant to be used in the operation. However, the criteria used to select the best hip replacement implant also vary:

  • Do you use the implant with the newest design, or the implant with the longest track record?
  • Does a surgeon use many different implants depending on each patient's needs, or become an expert in using one type for the specific patients whom it suits?
  • Should a surgeon use implants suggested or asked for by their patients?

Orthopedic supply companies have begun to advertise directly to consumers. Advertisements are seen in magazines and newspapers, on late-night television, and in brochures at your doctor's office. The advertisements might make you think one implant has been shown to be better than others. This has been seen recently with ads for ceramic hip replacements.

However, the truth is that no one knows what the "best" implant is. The ideal hip replacement implant will allow for normal activities, normal motion, and last the patient's lifetime. The only way to know if these goals will be met is to use the implant in people preforming normal activities, and then follow their results for decades. As a result, implants designed recently do not have long-term track records to prove their longevity.

Implant Brand vs. Surgeon's Expertise

Another factor that is important for patients to understand is that the brand of hip replacement is likely not the most important factor in determining how long the implant is going to last. One of the most important aspects of ensuring an artificial joint will last as long as possible is a precise, accurate surgery. Having a properly aligned joint replacement is critical to the long-term functioning of the implant.

A good analogy is to think of the tires on your car. It does not matter what brand of tires you put on the car—if the wheels are not properly aligned, they're not going to last.

Finding a surgeon who has good experience with joint replacement surgery and has a good track record of results is important. It may seem difficult to identify a surgeon with the right level of experience, but there are questions you can ask and people whose opinions you can query to help find the right surgeon.

Criteria

Patients and surgeons should select an implant that fits the following criteria:

  • The implant has a reasonable track record of use (minimum of 5 to 10 years)
  • The surgeon has used the implant before
  • It is appropriate for the patient's condition

A Word From Verywell

If you have questions about a specific implant, ask your doctor or surgeon about it, and ask them to compare it to the implant he or she usually uses. If you want more information about an implant, you can read more at company websites. In addition, it is reasonable to ask your surgeon if they receive any financial compensation from an implant company. There is a potential conflict of interest when surgeons use implants made by companies from which they receive financial compensation. In these situations, your surgeon should disclose that potential conflict of interest and explain why, specifically, they recommend one implant over another for your condition.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Total Hip Replacement - OrthoInfo. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. October 2007.