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New Research Confirms Hip Implants are Riskier for Women than Men

Feb 19, 2013

Women who undergo a total hip replacement are more likely to suffer complications that require a revision surgery to remove a hip implant than men.

According to a report on a new study from researchers at Southern California Permanente Research Group, the failure rate for women, on average and accounting for several different factors, is higher than it is for men. Women suffered early failures of their hip implant in the three years following their procedure at a rate of 2.3 percent, compared to 1.9 percent for men.

The study followed more than 35,000 total hip replacement patients for a total of three years. Researchers accounted for several factors, including age, body mass index, whether or not they had diabetes, how bad their natural hip was prior to the surgery to replace it, the type of device they had implanted, and the size of the femoral head used on the implant.

The study found, “The risk appeared most prominent for aseptic revision compared with septic failure,” according to the Web report.

Two of the biggest risk factors for women is the size of the femoral head that is used in the total hip replacement and the type of hip implant device. The femoral head is one component of a hip implant device and the larger the head used, the higher the risk of implant failure is for women. Femoral heads larger than 36 millimeters used in female patients seem to cause more complications in women than men. Smaller femoral heads, the study found, had no significant difference in failure rates between the genders.

Also plaguing women who undergo a hip replacement surgery is the use of metal-on-metal hip implants. These devices have been linked to myriad complications among all recipients and have even been the cause of thousands of lawsuits to be filed against their makers but the risk of early failure is much higher among women than men who receive a metal-on-metal hip implant.

The results of this study may not provide much comfort for people about to undergo or who are considering a total hip replacement, especially women. Federal data gleaned from Medicare records already showed that women face a greater risk of complications caused by a hip implant device but this study attempts to identify what risk factors make the hips more dangerous for women.

But a commentary that was published alongside the results of this study, these risk factors may not be a consideration for many who need a hip replacement since the pain and disability that’s hindered a prospective recipient may make a surgery the only viable option.

Rather than assessing the short-term risks associated with total hip replacements, researchers at National Research Center for Women and Families wrote that more studies are needed to help women, especially, determine which hip implant device may be best for them.

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