Men s hip implants fare slightly better than women s

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More than 400,000 Americans have full or partial hip replacements each year, and the majority of them are women. Now, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women were also 30 percent more likely than men to need a repeat procedure within the three years following the initial surgery. However, this news is not nearly as dire as it appears.

The study looked at about 35,000 surgeries and found that after three years, 2.3 percent of women and 1.9 percent of men had undergone repeat surgeries because of complications with the original hip replacement. The most common problems were dislocation and wear of the replacement. Researchers hypothesize that the higher rate of repeat surgeries in women may be due to the fact that women have smaller joints and bones requiring smaller devices which are more likely to dislocate. They also speculate that the difference in revision frequency may be due to the differing pelvic and hip anatomy of women or the fact that women exhibit greater loss of bone density.

However, study co-author and associate professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, Dr. Art Sedrakyan, notes that hip replacements are very safe surgeries with 97 percent of implants lasting at least five years.

And Diana Zukerman, president of the nonprofit National Research Center for Women & Families, adds that It s a really exciting paper. This is the first step in what has to be a much longer-term research strategy to figure out why women have worse experiences. Research in this area could save billions of dollars and prevent patients from experiencing the pain and inconveniences of surgeries to fix hip implants that go wrong.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross suggested that If the headline read, instead, 97.8 percent of hip replacements in women last at least three years, no one would have read it yet that too is true. A failure rate of 2.3 percent at three years out seems like a major success story, while the 30 percent increased risk seems the opposite. Of course, studies should be done to elucidate the causes of the difference, albeit small.