Leading medical research charity, Action Research, which is famous for helping develop the UK’s first artificial hip surgery, agrees that action needs to be taken in helping to curb the financial and physical cost of many secondary operations, and welcomes the call for a national register of hip replacement surgery.
John Grounds, Director of Campaigns and Communications, says: ‘Although hip replacement surgery can drastically improve the quality of life for many patients, there is some concern about its shelf life.
‘Any research designed to improve the life-time of an implant and reduce the need of further surgery is paramount.’
Action Research pioneered artificial hip joint surgery in the1960s, and has continued to fund projects to increase the life-expectancy of hip joints. Two current studies could improve the long term effectiveness of hip replacements and spare the NHS thousands of pounds.
Researchers in Leeds are investigating how much the ‘swing phase’ of walking can wear down the hip joint. Utilising specially-created hip joint simulators, the results might highlight the benefits of different materials, and lead to recommendations to improve surgical techniques or design.
Another project based in both Southampton and London aims to identify how and where the cemented hip joint fails by developing state-of-the-art techniques similar to those being used in the aerospace industry.
The first is called acoustic emission (AE), which uses sound waves to record the progression of defects in the cement layer and where the cement attaches to the bone and joint. The second uses high frequency ultrasonic waves to examine the site of the damage located by the AE method.
Both techniques have been successfully used in monitoring cracks and defects in aeroplane components and materials.
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