Innovative 'ceramic-on-metal' hip replacements to undergo clinical trials

08/19/04

EPSRC press release

A new type of artificial hip, more robust and longer lasting than conventional artificial joints, is to undergo clinical trials and could be available for patients within five years.

These 'ceramic-on-metal' joints cause less damage to the surrounding bone than conventional artificial hips, therefore many recipients will avoid the need for further surgery. They could also lower the age at which it is practical for patients to undergo hip replacement, helping them to continue to lead active lives. The limitations of conventional artificial hips mean that many patients are advised to wait as long as possible, often in considerable discomfort, before having an artificial hip put in place.

The research is being carried out by engineers, medical researchers and biologists at the University of Leeds, underpinned by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

This research is a further improvement on work carried out by the same team to develop 'metal–on-metal' joints, which have been in use for a number of years. The ceramic part of the new artificial joint is the knuckle head and the cup of the hip is made out of the metal.

'Metal-on-metal' joints improve on the traditional 'metal-head-in-polyethylene-cup' implants, being longer lasting and more robust. This latest 'ceramic-on-metal' joint further improves on 'metal-on-metal' as it generates ten times less metal wear. The ceramic head remains smooth and undamaged throughout the lifetime of the joint and this improves the joint lubrication process, reducing friction and wear. The research team use a unique 'Hip Simulator' to carry out their work (picture available – see details below).

Professor John Fisher of the School of Mechanical Engineering is leading the research. He says: "An increasing number of younger and active patients now need hip replacements, and are demanding better-performing artificial joints. These recent developments will lead to a ten-fold improvement in wear performance."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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