How has the technology of implants for joint replacement changed?
The general design of joint implants has not significantly changed in the last 10 years. Surgical technique has changed – smaller incisions, “less invasive” approaches, and less surgical exposure have led to less post operative pain and easier rehabilitation. Improvements in anesthesia and pain protocols have resulted in easier initial recovery from surgery and shorter stays in the hospital. Rehabilitation techniques have also improved. Newer designs of some artificial joints without longer term follow-up studies have shown problems, and have been associated with shorter lifespan of the joint, as well as recalls of joint replacements. Patients should ask their orthopedic surgeon about long-term results for the prosthetic device they are considering. Current artificial joints being used have been in use for 15 years or more, and artificial hip joints for example are anticipated to last 20 to 25 years based on lab simulation studies.