Harvard Men's Health Watch

Total hip replacement and the older man: More options than you really need

A standard metal-and-plastic joint implant is a reliable, well-tested solution that could last a lifetime.

Total hip replacement has become routine. Any man healthy enough for the surgery can get a high-tech mechanical prosthesis to restore a painful, failing natural joint to its former function. More than 285,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States, and new options have emerged to meet the demand. For example, you may have heard about hip resurfacing, a procedure in which damaged portions of the joint are sheathed in durable metal.

But for older men, newer may not be better. Surgeons have decades of experience with conventional total hip replacements, and the hardware has also improved considerably. "For most people, the hip that you get in your mid-to-late 60s and beyond is going to last the rest of your life," says Dr. Donald Reilly, assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School.

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