Should Hip Patients avoid Birmingham?

A report sponsored by the National Joint Registry (JRI) and published in The Lancet has raised serious concerns over the hip replacement treatment option known as 'resurfacing'. Following the follow up of 32,000 patients who had the procedure it was concluded that the failure rate was unacceptably high.

A traditional (plastic on metal) hip implant is supposed to last for over ten years, however, this large study has shown that the only type of patient where the 'resurfacing' method produced this sort of result was in middle aged men of a larger stature.

The sales pitch associated with 'resurfacing' was that this procedure preserved more of the original bone than a conventional hip replacement. However, many senior surgeons have always maintained a degree of cynacism about the claim. Further, the hip prosthetics used for so-called 'resurfacing' are of the metal-on-metal type implants with previously identified issues surrounding the generation of metallic debris.

On the other hand, the manufacturers Smith & Nephew who sell a product known as the Birmingham Hip, state that their implants are not as susceptible to the metal debris issues as traditional all-metal implants.

Lead researcher, Dr. Blom reports that the data showed the Birmingham Hip was used in about 50% of all resurfacing procedures reported in the registry.

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