Implanting Wisdom

December 01, 1998

Patients in the UK with hip and joint replacements may be suffering unnecessarily with repeated joint failures, dislocations and operations because of a lack of co-ordination and monitoring of both implant operations and developmental research. Alan Pengelly, biomaterials consultant with Technicon (Surrey, UK) and writing for Materials World, says that by establishing a national co-ordinating body to gather data and monitor the provision of materials for orthopaedic implants many of these problems could be resolved.

Annually there are about 50,000 hip replacements in the UK at a national cost of around £300 million. Most pelvic sockets of hip replacements are made from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) which offers good durability and physical and chemical stability. However, microscopic wear of this material damages and erodes the natural bone structure surrounding and supporting the implants and more research monitoring is required to develop improved prostheses.

Alan Pengelly says, "From the research [on hip replacement failures] the problems of using UHMWPE in medical implants are fairly well understood. However, progress in resolving them -- or finding a better material or system -- is considerably slower and less creatively managed than the magnitude of the problem warrants."
PLEASE MENTION MATERIALS WORLD AS THE SOURCE OF THIS ITEM For further information or a full copy of the article please contact Andrew McLaughlin on tel: 44-171-451-7395; fax: 44-171-839-2289 or email:

Notes for Editors

1. The Institute of Materials is currently considering the most effective way of establishing a national co-ordinating body to gather data and monitor the provision of materials for orthopaedic implants and the implants themselves to ensure the improved provision of orthopaedic implants in the future.

2. Materials World is the journal of the Institute of Materials, the professional body of more than 19,000 materials scientists and engineers throughout Europe. The journal is distributed to all of the Institute's members who work in areas such as plastics, rubber, steel, metals and ceramics.

3. Materials World is also available on the web:

Institute of Materials

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