Letter: Warning about artificial hips

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with interest the article by Stewart Andersen (11 April) on his experience of having a total hip replacement aged 52. His advice to your readers was: "If offered a total hip replacement, take it." Can I sound a note of warning?

Total hip replacement is a successful operation but there are significant complications. Six people in 1,000 will die as a direct result of the surgery, while over one in 100 will have complications in terms of infection or nerve damage which will turn the hoped-for successful operation into a disaster. There is absolutely no evidence that the new design of hip replacement described will last more than 10 years, because it has not been on the market that long. The older, more conventional designs have been recorded in very rare cases as lasting up to 30 years, but normally about a half of the patients have moderate to severe pain within 10 years.

In younger patients, the hip joints appear to wear out even more quickly. Before rushing off to have a hip replacement, your readers might wish to ask the orthopaedic surgeon what is the long-term success rate of the type of joint replacement he is using, and what is the success rate in his hands? The answer might be quite revealing.

Yours sincerely,

C. J. K. BULSTRODE

Clinical Reader in

Orthopaedic Surgery

University of Oxford

Oxford

21 April

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