Online Joint Replacements Tool

Over 200,000 hip and knee replacements are performed in the UK each year – it is a constantly growing surgical field and the medical tools available now are helping improve the quality of life of a significant proportion of the population. As such, any improvements or developments in how to effectively offer these services have a significant reach.

One such development has been announced thanks to the University of Sheffield who, working collaboratively with the University of Bristol, has been busy working on a new online joint replacements tool which will help patients research many questions they might have before deciding whether or not to opt for surgery.

The University of Sheffield has revealed it has developed a pioneering new tool which “gives patients unique personalised information about the risks and benefits of having a joint replacement for the first time.” The tool has been created after an assessment of masses of patient data thanks to information held by the National Joint Registry, which keeps data from over 1 million hip and knee operations.

It promises to be intuitive and easy to use, and “the Patient Decision Aid For Joint Replacement generates an individualised set of results for patients based on a variety of factors including how long the implant will last, predicted pain and function levels before and after surgery and the associated risks such as death rate”. Not only is the usability of the tool one of its benefits, as it is available online it is also versatile in terms of where it can be used. Patients can choose whether they use it at home and access the information on a personal basis, or in a consultation setting with their GP who can help answer any questions as they work through it.

What does this mean for hip replacement patients?

A tool such as this promises to be empowering for patients, as it hands over a greater level of control that ever before and gives them access to greater medical knowledge. With clearly worded language and digestible information available, they can work through many of the questions they might have such as the pros and cons of the different options available, how the different options suit different lifestyles, and when the best time is to consider surgery (for example taking into account factors such as overall health, BMI etc).

Patients who have been able to test this tool ahead of surgery are positive about the amount of information it enabled them to gather ahead of their consultation and claim this helped them streamline/fine tune the questions they asked of their surgeon. One patient explained “Using the tool has given me a whole host of information which I can now talk through with the consultant at my forthcoming appointment. It has been very helpful and I am sure it will be useful for lots of people in a similar position to myself.”

Looking ahead to the future of hip replacements

Ultimately, a tool such as this can offer a great deal of insight and knowledge for patients, it can help prevent surgery that is not suitable and/or necessary for patients and from a budget perspective can also help save the NHS money.

total hip replacements

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the biggest clinical research funder in Europe and has recently published results of a study looking at the effectiveness of a range of prosthetic implants used in patients who have undergone total hip replacement surgery.

This research is important because total hip replacements are extensively carried out in England and Wales, with almost 100,000 being fitted in 2017.

The research dataset was huge; the team assessed “more than 1 million individual patient-records from national joint registries in the UK and Sweden, countries with similar publicly funded health services.” They looked at how total hip replacements fared for men and women and they looked at the revision rate for all cases (which is the requirement for follow up surgery following the initial operation).

All the different types of prosthetic implant were assessed, of which there are a variety of different types of implants available:

  • Metal on polyethylene – this is the most frequently used implant type and its origins date back to the middle of the twentieth century. It has a long and successful history but over time the polyethylene part can become worn and begin to wear down.
  • Other combinations include ceramic-on-polyethylene, metal-on-metal and ceramic-on-ceramic. These are newer evolutions and cost more to produce. There are also different ways of fixing these newer implants to the existing bone, which can have an impact on their overall effectiveness.

The results are interesting, concluding that there is no evidence of benefit with new more expensive implants over older implants. This obviously has a cost implication too, as many of the newer implants represent a more expensive option.

The implant that fared most positively in the research was actually the cheapest one available, although this finding was only conclusive in the over 65 age bracket. The “small-head cemented metal-on-polyethylene implants” cost around £750, has the lowest amount of follow up surgery and is currently used in around one third of total hip replacements in the UK.

In second place, the “small-head cemented ceramic-on-polyethylene implants were most cost-effective in men and women younger than 65 years ” although the report authors stress that there were some factors that they couldn’t assess comprehensively in this age group, such as predicting the revision rate that might be seen in the future.

What does that mean for patients awaiting total hip replacements?

There are many different factors that affect which type of implant is chosen for each patient. Factors include biological and lifestyle elements, such as age, weight, gender and level of activity (currently and desired). Surgeons often have a preference for the type of implant they choose to use, based on their own research and experience of fitting them.

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it

What is most interesting is that in this case, newer doesn’t necessarily mean better, and more expensive doesn’t equate to necessarily being better either. The long-standing, older-style implants still offer a sustainable, effective solution for those of use whose joints are deteriorating and are in need of a prosthetic implant.

return to sport after hip surgery

Fans of tennis will be aware of Andy Murray’s hip struggles over the past few years, and many of us were delighted to see him crowned doubles’ champion at Queens with partner Feliciano Lopez. When asked how he felt about his achievement, he said “I just won the doubles here with Feli with a metal hip, it’s mental really. My hip felt great, no pain – I feel good just now.” Watching his progress has been inspirational for us all.

This has been an important step for Mr Murray, both mentally and physically. His hip resurfacing operation was a mere five months ago. He now plans to continue his training and rehabilitation and hopes to push his successes on the singles’ courts too.

Andy Murray has recently returned to sport following major joint surgery and he is not the only one to be keen to return to more strenuous activities after surgery. In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions from patients who are preparing for hip replacement surgery, is how quickly they will regain mobility. Not only that, very many of our patients are not just keen to get back to walking around, they are keen to get back into the sports they love.

Evolution of thinking

Total hip replacements have been performed for decades; they are one of the oldest and best practised joint surgeries. When first introduced they were regarded more as a ‘salvage’ operation, as explained by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) “originally considered a salvage procedure, the initial goal was simply to allow people to perform basic activities of daily living without experiencing excruciating pain.”

When things had become unbearable for patients in terms of pain and lack of mobility, this operation could help reduce pain and give them the freedom to move around again. Fast forward to the modern day and our thinking regarding this type of operation has changed significantly. Our expectations of what it can achieve – and very often the realities of this too – are far greater.

Taking a positive approach to return to sport after hip surgery

Mr Bridle’s approach to advising patients on when they can return to sports is that anything is achievable within reason. The important thing to remember is don’t rush things; listen to your surgeon and your body, ensure you take your rehabilitation and physiotherapy seriously, and you’ll soon find you’re able to start participating in the leisure pursuits you enjoy.

This forward-thinking approach is supported and recommended by leading medical literature, as outlined by the NCBI; which explains that data supports a managed return to sport after hip surgery and yields no evidence that this adds undue wear and tear on the new joint. “There is little prospective evidence regarding the likelihood of poor clinical outcomes with higher level of sporting activity. There is some evidence to suggest that wear may be related to activity level, but the impact on clinical outcomes is conflicting.”

It goes on to advise surgeons “when advising an athlete considering returning to sport after THA [a total hip athroplasty/replacement], consider their preoperative activity level, current physical fitness, and specific history including bone quality, surgical approach and type of prosthesis.” If the patient is keen to get active again, there is no medical reason why this shouldn’t, in theory, be possible.

To discuss in more depth what you can expect in terms of return to sport after hip surgery, call 020 8947 9524 to book a consultation.

self-funding hip surgery

It is no secret that the NHS is overstretched and under-funded, which can lead to painfully long waiting times for operations and in some areas, lack of access to some procedures. This is unlikely to change any time soon. Despite the best efforts of those working in and managing our health service, the supply, demand and ultimately the funding, just don’t balance effectively.

This leads many of us to question whether the NHS will be able to continue to fund operations such as joint replacement surgery in the future?

Controversial NHS fixes

Recently, some NHS trusts have been criticised for allowing some patients to jump the queue by paying significant sums to jump the waiting list. In a scheme that has since been cancelled, “Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had been “accused of ‘disgraceful’ privatisation for trying to charge £18,000 for hip replacements”. For a service that is meant to be available for everyone, this has caused waves of protests and a lot of negative feeling has been voiced; “a photo of a poster about ‘self-funded procedures’ has also been posted online and people railed against the hospitals charging for once-free treatment.”

Self-funding is clearly a very practical answer to a very real problem, but it is just not seen as an acceptable answer for the NHS problem.

At Mr Simon Bridle’s hip surgery practice, we are seeing a real growth in patients deciding to remove themselves from the NHS pool and to seek a private alternative for their hip replacement needs. The demand for such operations is rising due to a variety of different reasons, including the fact that there are a growing number of people who need hip replacements younger than they might have been done in the past. This increasing pool of patients requiring a hip replacement means that there is just no way that everyone will be treated quickly and efficiently on the NHS.

The demand is simply too high; according to projected figures from a 2015 study published in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage journal, “the NHS will need to perform an estimated 439,097 hip replacements and 1.2 million knee replacements by 2035 to keep the population in England and Wales mobile and pain-free”.

What to do if you are considering self-funding hip surgery

There are many benefits in self-funding hip surgery and many people are choosing to do just that. Patients are able to pick the time, place and surgeon that they feel most comfortable with, and this simply isn’t possible if you are having a joint replacement done on the NHS. If you are interested in finding out more about this then the first step is to make an appointment to talk through your requirements with Mr Bridle.

He will be able to assess your case, talk to you about your preferences and give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether to wait on the NHS or to opt to have your operation privately.

revision joint replacement

There has been a lot written recently about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches to carrying out a total hip replacement.

The Bone and Joint Journal published a thorough assessment recently which evaluated “five commonly used surgical approaches with respect to the incidence of surgery-related complications”, the findings of which are helpful for both patients and surgeons, when considering which approach to use.

The following five approaches were evaluated:

  • Posterior
  • Anterior
  • Direct lateral
  • Anterolateral
  • Northern approach

A number of the more common complications were then recorded against each approach. These complications included “prolonged wound drainage without infection, superficial infection, deep infection, dislocation, aseptic loosening, and periprosthetic fracture” and also the rate of revision joint replacement surgery required.

London hip surgeon Mr Simon Bridle favours the posterior approach, which comes out well in the evaluation. In fact, of all the methodological comparisons that have surfaced recently, the posterior approach is regarded positively. The report concludes: “we found that the posterior approach had a significantly lower overall complication rate compared with the anterior approach, with an equal dislocation rate.”

The interesting finding of this recent report is how the anterior approach fares in the comparison. There are a lot of practitioners who offer this approach and it is heavily marketed, but the data here shows that it actually comes out with the highest complication rate.

Anterior versus posterior approach to hip replacement

There are some key differences in the anterior approach versus the posterior approach, which are detailed below. These differences will ultimately be responsible for the differences in how these two approaches fare in a comparative exercise. Firstly, the incision is made in a different place. With the anterior approach, the incision is at the front of the hip whereas, with the posterior approach, it is done at the side.

The challenge for orthopaedic surgeons carrying out the anterior approach is that it is much harder to see what they are doing, compared with the ease that the posterior approach allows. This is because the anterior approach allows surgeons to work between the muscles, whereas the posterior approach involves cutting through the muscles and then repairing them once the new joint is inserted.

Although initial healing time may be faster for the anterior approach, the relative lack of complications associated with the posterior approach and how it relates to revision joint replacement is one of the reasons this approach is used by Mr Simon Bridle. To discuss the procedure in more detail, call 020 8947 9524 to arrange a consultation.

hip implant recovery

One of the first questions patients ask when they are preparing for a hip replacement is how long the recovery takes. Understanding what the hip implant recovery period will be like and how long it will be until you start to reap the benefits of your new joint.

Although everyone is different, most patients are able to fully utilise their replacement joint between 3 to 6 months following surgery. Patients will need to reach certain milestones in the shorter and longer term, and this will gradually build over time to result in significantly improved mobility once the joint is fully healed.

In the shorter term, there will be milestones that kick in almost immediately, such as getting out of bed for the first time and going home. In time, weaning off painkillers is also a good sign that recovery is progressing well. Patients are encouraged to reach milestones such as this as quickly as possible, as it is important to get people feeling normal as quickly as possible.

As the shorter term moves to the more ‘medium’ term, milestones become things such as managing to have a full night’s sleep without waking due to joint discomfort and walking without the use of a frame or sticks. As time moves on, the milestones become slightly harder to measure, as they relate to how well the wound is healing and how the muscles and ligaments are repairing. This takes time and requires hard work and dedication to help the healing process along.

Hip implant recovery: making sure you help yourself

There are some important things that you can do to help ensure a thorough and timely recovery. The amount of effort that you put into your rehabilitation will have a direct impact on how quickly and how well you recover.

The first thing is something that you can do before the operation, and that is to ensure that your house is as best suited as possible to your needs when you are recovering. In the early stages, you will find getting around the house challenging, so having things on the ground floor and within arms’ reach will be extremely important. It is vital that you don’t over stretch for items and risk falling, so rearranging your key household items in advance is very sensible.

Make sure that (following your surgeon and physiotherapist’s advice) you begin exercising regularly. This is important to ensure sufficient blood flow to the healing area of your body and it is also key to start building the muscles back up and ensuring you are using the joint fully from the offset. Make time each day to do your leg exercises and stick to this. It will pay off in the longer term if you are strict with your physio.

For more aftercare advice, call 020 8947 9524 to book a consultation with Mr Simon Bridle.

hip implant choice

As consumers, we are used to having a wide variety of choices available when considering any purchase or investment. The same element of choice exists in some of the most surprising settings. For example, many people don’t realise that patients are able to research, discuss and influence the type of implant used when they are undergoing a hip replacement.

This hip implant choice will always be made in close consultation with your orthopaedic surgeon, who will make a recommendation based on their own knowledge and preferences of the prosthetic joints that are available, and this will be coupled with what they learn about your unique circumstances. This will help them select that which would be the best fit for the patient’s body and requirements.

Trusted research sources

For surgeons and their patients, the first place of reference when considering hip implant choice is to look at the National Joint Registry for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man (NJR). This body was set up to assess the effectiveness of the different prosthetic joints that are available, after the high profile failures of some new joint designs.

The reason the NJR was set up was to ensure consistency and medical excellence, and also to assess whether there are any issues that surgeons need to be aware of when selecting prosthetic joints for their patients and to identify poorly performing implants at an earlier stage.

Recently, a large-scale patient study was undertaken to look at the non-inferiority of prosthetic joints. This was not designed to identify the very best performing joints and provide a rank; more it was to look at the performance of different implant combinations when compared with an industry benchmark and to identify those which were performing less well and try and understand why this might be the case.

The report, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concludes: “the information presented here illustrates the variability, frequency and performance of different constructs currently used in clinical practice. This, in turn, should be used to further inform the consenting process between the patient and the surgeon, and facilitate implant selection.”

This demonstrates that there is no ‘once side that fits all’ when it comes to prosthetic joint selection, rather that it is an open market place with many different options to choose from, many of which would yield a satisfactory result.

What this means for joint replacement patients

Most surgeons will only work with one or two types of joint, despite the wide variety that is available. This is because the different implants work very differently from one another and are made from different materials. Here at the Fortius Clinic, Mr Simon Bridle uses the Exeter Stem as his joint prosthesis of choice, which he has favoured for many years; this stem is one of the best performing implants in the assessment of joints made in the non-inferiority study mentioned above.  This study provides surgeons with very valuable information to help them choose well-performing implants for their patients and is reassuring for patients to know the implant the surgeon is using is likely to last for a long time.

walking and hip osteoarthritis

When an area of the body is in pain or discomfort many people will naturally try to ease off exercising for fear of making the problem worse. However, stopping regular exercise in order to alleviate pain or to help counteract reduced mobility is actually contradictory to what experts recommend.

For those with hip osteoarthritis, the advice from medical professionals is that exercising is still critical to ensure that the joint is still being used regularly and that the body is not put under other stresses and strains brought on by a reduction in exercise.

Gentle forms of exercise such as walking and swimming are particularly good for those suffering from osteoarthritis. Although strenuous walks, hiking and walks involving steep gradients may not be ideal, short walks on a relatively flat plain that ensure that you are getting out and about and allowing your joints to flex are essential for making sure that the joint is not deteriorate faster than it is already doing.

Walking and hip osteoarthritis

New research commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows some worrying statistics, indicating that many people who are suffering from joint complaints are not walking as much as they should be. Findings show:

  • Over half of those with hip osteoarthritis (53%) were not choosing to walk as a form of exercise
  • Two thirds (66%) were walking, but for less than the recommended 90 minutes per week
  • Just under one quarter (23%) were walking enough to meet the current recommended level of at least 150 minutes per week

According to research published in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage journal, walking and gentle exercise is actually critical for helping to prevent joint cartilage from deteriorating. The analysis, undertaken by Queen Mary University of London, looked at “the benefits of exercise on the tissues that form our joints and how this is down to tiny hair-like structures called primary cilia found on living cells.”

Researchers found that exercise acted as a natural anti-inflammatory for the joint cartilage, helping counteract some of the deterioration. Exercise actually encourages the production of a protein called HDAC6, which is important for the generation of primary cilia cells.

A greater understanding of how the protein and the cells interact means that experts could develop therapeutic ‘mechano-medicine’ for arthritis patients. This means that the benefits of exercise can be replicated and used as part of a wider treatment programme.

These findings are interesting and important for the development of new treatments for people suffering from joint osteoarthritis. The condition affects many thousands of people in the UK, so the development of new treatments such as this are welcomed by medical professionals looking to find the best way to treat their patients.

joint replacement performance

Hip replacement operations are popular and common practice with around 175,000 hip operations being conducted every year in the United Kingdom. Over time, people’s bone density and joints deteriorate for a number of reasons and some they are referred for hip replacement treatment whereby some (or all) of the joint is replaced. The aim of the operation is to increase mobility and to reduce pain and discomfort.

A common cause of hip joint deterioration is osteoarthritis which is deterioration of the cartilage around the joints. This means the ball and socket joint rub together causing unnatural amounts of friction which can cause problems with mobility, pain and discomfort when walking, sitting, standing or doing any form of exercise.

Extensive new joint replacement study revealed

For the first time, the performance of different kinds of hip and knee prosthetic implants have been assessed on a massive scale by researchers at the University of Bristol. The study – the first of its kind in size and scope – has yielded some very interesting findings, with significant differences in the performance of the different materials used for the joint replacement components and subsequently the proportion of patients who require revision surgery after their initial operation.

These results were published in the BMJ Open journal in April this year and have been compiled from data from the National Joint Registry for England Wales Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

The study analysed data from more than 1.7 million patients who had undergone joint replacement between April 2003 and December 2016. Specifically, the data came from nearly 4,500 hip implants that were used in almost 800,000 hip replacements and just under 450 different types of knee implants used in just under 950,000 knee replacements. This equates to.

All orthopaedic surgeons have preferences in terms of the approach to hip and knee replacement surgeries; the way the operation is conducted and the materials used for the prophetic joints.  The possible combinations of the available implants are enormous; depending on the patient’s individual circumstances a surgical strategy is discussed with the patient. Encouragingly, the results yield some very positive findings overall, with “the vast majority of implants used by the health service – 89 per cent of knees and 96 per cent of hips – perform better than standard.”

The cemented Exeter stem features in a number of the best performing combinations, with various different acetabular components, which suggests that this component performs well in a number of different clinical settings, with many different surgeons using this component.  London Hip Surgeon Mr Simon Bridle recommends this implant for the majority of his patients.

The study also identifies joint replacement implant combinations which are performing less well.  Although this is important information, this does need to be considered with a bit of caution as there are many factors which may be influencing this.  Mr Bridle feels that a surgeon needs to think carefully before using these seemingly less well-performing implants.

Martyn Porter, an orthopaedic surgeon and former president of the British Orthopaedic Association, believes that opening the channels of debate about which prosthetic joints are best for which patients are empowering for the patient and helps them understand more about the treatment they are about to receive. He summarises: “The data produced by this study is very powerful. Whilst the rate of revision is only one of the metrics by which the success of joint replacement is judged, it is one that is often important to patients. This data is the beginning of a discussion that patients can have with their surgeon around the type of joint replacement that they might have.”

To discuss your joint replacement in more detail, including the type of implant used and the results you can expect, call 020 8947 9524 to arrange a consultation with Mr Bridle.

hip surgery recovery

Dislocation of a new hip joint is one of the things that patients are usually most concerned about and is something that surgeons will be very careful to warn about when advising patients about how to approach their post-operative recovery.

Interestingly, according to the results of a new study, depending on the type of surgery they have had, low-risk patients do not need to be as concerned about the risk of dislocation as their level of risk to this group is extremely low. The research, carried out by the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York, reports that “low-risk patients undergoing a total hip replacement with a posterior approach can skip the standard hip precautions currently recommended for post-surgical recovery.”

Firstly, it is important to understand that there are two fundamentally different approaches to carrying out a total hip replacement: the posterior approach and the anterior approach. The differences between these two approaches are as follows:

  • Posterior approach: This involves surgeons making an incision through the side or the buttocks. The incision is small; the main gluteal muscle is split and small muscles are taken off the back of the hip and repaired at the end of the surgery.
  • Anterior approach: By comparison, surgeons using this approach will make their incision through the front of the hip. The incision starts at the top of the pelvic bone and continues down towards the top of the thigh. The surgery is done by opening the space between different muscle groups.

Both approaches have a very low chance of their new joint dislocating.

What this means for hip replacement patients

The relatively low risk for patients should be taken into consideration when advising patients what to expect from their recovery and what precautions to take, and indeed that is the way that Mr Simon Bridle approaches post-operative planning.

Authors of the new report suggest that if the guidance is not adapted to reflect the nature of the surgery, then low-risk patients could be scared unnecessarily about their risk of dislocation, when in fact they are at very low risk of this occurring. Peter Sculco, one of the report authors, says that if not handled properly “the precautions can be limiting and cause fear in patients.”

By way of an example, for patients who have had traditional posterior approach surgery, the “standard precautions include not flexing your hip past 90 degrees, not internally rotating your hip more than 10 degrees, using an elevated seat cushion at all times, and sleeping on your back for six weeks.”

This level of precaution is not required if the muscles are repaired with a posterior approach, or with an anterior approach, as the muscles have not been affected in the same way. The important take away from this new research is that a ‘one size for all approach’ is not appropriate for designing a recovery plan for the two different kinds of surgery, and that guidance for the post-operative days, weeks and months should be designed and tailored according to the nature of the surgery.  The traditional ‘hip precautions’ are just not required in most patients having hip replacements and patients are allowed to use the hip as comfort allows from the very early post-operative stages.