Will My New Hip or Knee Last Forever?
I have patients in my office every weeks or so that had their hip or knee replaced 10-15 years ago and their doctor told them that they would have to have it redone in 10-15 years. I ask these patients “Does your hip or knee hurt?” and the answer is usually “No”. I take X-rays that show a good looking knee or hip replacement, and their exam is normal. I then get to deliver the good news that the knee or hip looks good and does not need to be redone, and in fact likely will never need to be redone.
The moral of the story is that we have found that hip and knee replacements are lasting longer than we ever thought possible. Of course there are always risks to any surgery and infection (in most patients less than one half of a percent chance) or premature loosening (also less than one percent chance) can lead to patients needing to have their knee or hip prematurely redone. However; barring any of these very rare risks, most patient’s new hips and knees will last them forever.
Many of the old problems that led to knees and hips needing to be redone such as inferior plastic materials that would wear out early, faulty cementing techniques, poor implant design and less accurate implantation techniques have been solved or at least minimized.
Some young patients worry that they are too young to have a hip or knee replacement. To them I say that we have data on young patients who had hips and knees replaced, and 35 years later, 78% of these people still had their original replacement! The knees and hips done 35 years ago were done with the above mentioned inferior techniques and with inferior technology, so we can only believe that today’s knees and hips will last even longer.
With the newer techniques and technology and the new data that we have today, we now tell patients to expect their new joint to last forever. Even young patients who were once told that they were too young and needed to wait and suffer until they were old enough are now encouraged to do the right thing, have the surgery that they need, and get back to living their life with a new knee or hip.