According to a recent study, hip replacements are more likely to fail in women than in men. Researchers found that although the overall risk of implants failing is low, women were 29 percent more likely than men to need a repeat hip replacement surgery within the first three years. The study, which was funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was one of the largest studies of its kind in U.S. patients.
Researchers looked at more than 35,000 surgeries at 46 hospitals. After an average of three years, researchers found that 2.3 percent of the women and 1.9 percent of the men had undergone revision surgery to fix a problem with the original hip replacement. Problems necessitating a second surgery included instability, infection, broken bones, and loosening of the implant.
One possible explanation for the higher failure rate in women is the fact that women tend to have smaller joints and bones than men and thus, they tend to need smaller artificial hip implants. Implant devices with smaller femoral heads are more likely to dislocate and require surgical repair. However, this theory explained some, but not all, of the discrepancies between women and men in the study. Some orthopedic surgeons speculate that the increased failure rate may be due to a greater loss of bone density in women.
Despite this widespread study, the message for women considering hip replacement surgery remains unclear. Although women make up the majority of the more than 400,000 Americans who have full or partial hip replacements each year, it is still not known which models of hip implants perform best in women.