The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently given their blessing to the first ceramic on ceramic hip implant.
Hip implants or total hip replacements are used to replace hip joints in patients who have diseased or damaged hips. Such surgery is obviously reserved for instances where other less invasive treatments are no longer an option.
Up until the newly approved hip implants, implants typically consisted of metal on plastic surfaces, such as titanium, stainless steel (316L) and cobalt chrome alloy femoral heads articulating on ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) acetabular cups. These implants have been known to produce wear debris which lodges in surrounding tissues over time. Osteolysis, or loss of bone, is also another problem associated with traditional implants. It is often blamed for implant failure.
The newly approved ceramic on ceramic models feature lower friction alumina (Al2O3, aluminium oxide) surfaces providing easier mobility and reduced wear. Surgeons believe that the ceramic based implants will offer a long term solution, unlike traditional implants which have an average life of 10 years.
The new implants are especially suited to younger, active patients.
For more information on alumina, click here.