The biggest improvement in hip replacement surgery involves the implant materials. Polyethylene has become more wear resistant. Manufacturers are using antioxidant additives to try to prevent premature breakdown of the implant material. There are also improved metal surfaces to increase the chance of good bony ingrowth to the implants, decreasing the risk of failure during loosening, particularly in revision surgery where the host bone may not be as good. Many surgeons are now switching to ceramic hip implant materials because metal ones can corrode and can cause pain and failure of hip replacements. Also, many have adopted a technique called direct anterior hip replacement, which is a muscle-sparing approach that reduces recovery time and potentially decreases dislocation rates. However, the benefits are still being Studied.
Other advancements involve improvements in spinal anesthesia, which is allowing patients to recover much faster with fewer complications. Today, computer navigation and a robot-assisted hip replacement are being done to attempt to improve the accuracy of bony cuts and implant position. Early-stage research is also being done to determine if an antibiotic coating on implants may help reduce the risk of infection.
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