Total hip arthroplasty is a cost-effective surgical procedure undertaken to relieve pain and restore function to the arthritic hip joint. More than 1 million arthroplasties are done every year worldwide, and this number is projected to double within the next two decades. Symptomatic osteoarthritis is the indication for surgery in more than 90% of patients, and its incidence is increasing because of an ageing population and the obesity epidemic. Excellent functional outcomes are reported; however, careful patient selection is needed to achieve best possible results. The present economic situation in many developed countries will place increased pressure on containment of costs. Future demand for hip arthroplasty, especially in patients younger than 65 years, emphasises the need for objective outcome measures and joint registries that can track lifetime implant survivorship. New generations of bearing surfaces such as metal-on-metal, ceramic-on-ceramic, and metal-on-ceramic, and techniques such as resurfacing arthroplasty have the potential to improve outcomes and survivorship, but findings from prospective trials are needed to show efficacy. With the recall of some metal-on-metal bearings, new bearing surfaces have to be monitored carefully before they can be assumed to be better than traditional bearings.
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