How does an artificial hip joint work?

The artificial prosthesis components are made of different materials:

  • metal alloys (titanium alloys in particular, due to good tolerance and durability)
  • ceramic and special plastic polymers
    (imitation of the lubricative cartilage layer)

The surgeon will decide which materials to use depending on the patient's anatomy.

Artificial hip joint partial endoprosthesis

If the cartilage layer in the acetabulum is in good condition (for example after a femoral neck fracture), this does not need to be replaced. In such cases, only the femoral head and the femoral neck are replaced with an artificial femoral head on a prosthesis stem. Following the operation, the artificial femoral head sits in the natural acetabulum. This is referred to as partial endoprosthesis, or hemi-endoprosthesis.

Artificial hip joint total endoprosthesis

In the majority of cases, the complete diseased hip joint is replaced. An artificial acetabular cup replaces the damaged acetabulum. The deformed femoral head together with the femoral neck are exchanged for an artificial femoral head which sits on the prosthesis stem. This is referred to as a total endoprosthesis.

With this method, only the damaged joint surface is replaced and lined with a metal spherical cup. The prosthesis thus comprises an artificial acetabular cup and a cup for the natural femoral head. Both components are made of metal and fit perfectly into each other. This is referred to as a cup prosthesis. This complex technique has only been around for a few years and to date only limited findings are available as to the longevity and tolerance of this type of prosthesis.

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