Although joint replacements are now routine, they are not fail-safe, reports Lesley Alderman in the Patient Money column.
Implants must sometimes be replaced, said Dr. Henrik Malchau, an orthopaedic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. A study published in 2007 found that 7 percent of hips implanted in Medicare patients had to be replaced within seven and a half years.
The percentage may sound low, but the finding suggests that thousands of hip patients eventually require a second operation, said Dr. Malchau. Those patients must endure additional recoveries, often painful, and increased medical expenses.