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Improved Bone Union after Total Hip Replacement Surgery

Posted on: 11/30/1999
Everyone loves a good mystery, but some need to be solved sooner than later. A lack of bone union after a total hip replacement (THR) is one of those mysteries that needs to be solved now. In some surgeries to put in a new hip joint, the surgeon removes the greater trochanter. The greater trochanter is the bony bump that you can feel on the side of your leg near the top of the hip. The piece of bone is wired back in place after the new hip joint is in place.

In some patients the bone doesn't heal bacl together. This can happen to anyone and often for more than one reason. The most common causes are poor bone quality and putting too much weight too soon on the new hip.

Doctors in France are trying a new device called a trochanteric claw plate to hold the bone together. Made of stainless steel, it's designed to match the shape and size of the bone. Wires are also used to give better bone contact by pressing the bone together. The plate and wires help the bone heal.

This study reports the results of the claw plate's use in 71 patients. The average age of the patients was between 66 and 76 years. There were an equal number of men and women. Results were measured using X-rays to look at bone position and healing. Pain and how much a person limped were also measured. Patients were followed for five years.

Doctors considered this treatment method a success. Almost 90 percent of the hips treated healed properly. Patients were able to walk pain-free and without a limp. The authors conclude that the trochanteric claw is the treatment of choice when a THR procedure calls for the removal of the greater trochanter.

Moussa Hamadouche, MD, PhD, et al. Reattachment of the Ununited Greater Trochanter Following Total Hip Arthroplasty. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. July 2003. Vol. 85-A. No. 7. Pp. 1330-1337.

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