August 2000
Baby Boomers: You're Not Too Young to Enjoy the Relief of Hip Replacement

Hip replacement has long been reserved for older folks. For one reason, they are most likely to need it. As we age, the cartilage wears down between the ball and socket in the hip joint. Without that cushion of cartilage, the bones grind together, restricting movement and causing pain.

Replacing the joint relieves the pain and restores ease of movement. However, replacement joints don't last forever. They can wear out, too. So orthopedic surgeons have traditionally advised postponing the procedure as long as possible—usually until the patient is in his or her 60's or 70's—to reduce the chances that a second replacement might become necessary later in life. That's the other reason why most hip replacements are done on senior citizens.

Now, just as active, energetic Baby-Boomers hit their fifties and begin wishing they had taken better care of their joints, along come better replacement hips!

Orthopedic surgeons in The Joint Reconstruction Center at Bridgeport Hospital are using new types of artificial hip joints, designed to last up to 30 years -ten years longer than the traditional device used in joint replacement. With the new joint, replacement can be performed sooner, resulting in more pain-free years.

The traditional artificial hip consists of a plastic socket and a metal ball. With metal rubbing on the traditional plastic socket, friction can wear down the plastic in about 15 to 20 years, so patients may require a second hip replacement.

In one type of new joint, the plastic socket is lined with a layer of metal. This greatly increases its durability. "The metal-lined socket is expected to increase the life span of the artificial hip to 30 years," says orthopedic surgeon David Bindelglass, MD. "If you have hip replacement surgery at age 50, your joint should be good-to-go until you're 80."

The hospital is also using an improved version of the standard replacement hip. This device uses Longevity plastic - a specially treated polyethylene that can also last up to 30 years, according to orthopedic surgeon John Mangieri, MD.

"These new artificial hips are great news for younger patients, who may be able to have the surgery and avoid a second hip replacement procedure when they are older," says Bridgeport Hospital's chief of Orthopedic Surgery, Murray Morrison, MD.

So if you thought you were too young to have the hip surgery that could ease your pain, think again-there are hipper kinds of hip replacements that might just last as long as you will!

For a referral to a physician, go to the Find a Physician section of this website. Or, call Bridgeport Hospital Services Referral at 888-357-2396.