Artificial joints – a success story

Artificial joints - a success story

In 1890 the surgeon Themistocles Gluck implanted the first artificial knee joint, made of ivory and nickel-plated steel, into a patient in Berlin. The first artificial hips followed in 1938. In the following years, materials and techniques were improved to such an extent that joint replacement surgery could be safely and successfully carried out.

The British orthopaedic surgeon Sir John Charnley developed the prototype for the hip endoprostheses still used today. The prototype consisted of a small metal head, and a socket made of Teflon, which was later substituted with polyethylene. In 1958 Charnley carried out the first implantation of a total hip replacement (THR) using ‘acrylic cement’ (polymethylmethacrylate – PMMA for short).

Bone cements based on PMMA have been used since then to anchor endoprostheses. This was followed in 1972 by the first bone cement with added antibiotic to support infection prophylaxis of the endoprosthesis.