New York Times Health Blog: Getting Joint Replacements Right

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03patient_600-articleInlineAlthough 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.

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