The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) calls total hip replacement an orthopedic success story, "enabling hundreds of thousands of people to live fuller, more active lives." In 2001, about 165,000 hip joints were replaced in U.S. hospitals, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The same year, 326,000 knees were replaced. Total knee replacement is "highly successful in relieving pain and restoring joint function," says the AAOS. And a hip or knee replacement lasts at least 20 years in about 80 percent of those who get them.
But despite their success, hip and knee joint replacements still have drawbacks. There may be complications. They don't always last a lifetime and when they fail, surgery may be needed.
As artificial joints and surgical techniques to implant them continue to evolve, the medical community and patients hold out hope for joint replacements that cause fewer problems, last longer, and move more like a healthy natural joint.
"All You Need to Know About Joint Surgery," © 2002, Arthritis Foundation