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Hip replacement success rate up

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The success rate of hip replacements is improving, with just one in 10 requiring follow-up work, reducing risk and discomfort for patients and saving the health system millions of dollars.

In evidence of significant improvements in surgical techniques and the design and manufacture of medical devices, figures compiled by the Australian Orthopaedic Association’s National Joint Replacement Registry show that just 10.6 per cent of hip operations in 2013 were procedures to rectify problems with implants, down from 12.6 per cent in 2010.

Association President Professor Peter Choong said the result was particularly pleasing given the steady rise in the number of hip replacement operations being carried out.

Professor Choong said 40,180 hip replacements were conducted in 2013, almost double the number carried out in 2003.

In all, more than 850,000 hip and knee replacements have been recorded by the Registry since 1999.

Professor Choong said the relatively low revision figures reflected the “outstanding success” of hip replacements in Australia because of the use of devices and techniques know the provide good outcomes.

In helping guide improvements in practise, Registry figures show that total hip replacements where the femoral head is small (28 millimetres or less) are much more likely to result in revision surgery than those where the head is large (32 millimetres or greater).

The Registry shows that using larger femoral heads has resulted in a halving of hip replacement dislocations – the most common complication – between 2003 and 2013.

“Using this data, combined with the individual circumstances of the patient, arms a surgeon with information that can be used to ensure the best outcome for the patient is achieved,” Professor Choong said. “With data like this, the Registry is making a difference to the lives of Australians.”

Adrian Rollins