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Source and full article: That Must Be Bob. I Hear His New Hip Squeaking. – NYTimes.com.

That Must Be Bob. I Hear His New Hip Squeaking.

By BARNABY J. FEDER

Published: May 11, 2008

Susan O’Toole’s artificial hip developed a squeak, a problem with ceramic parts. Used components show areas of friction.

The first time John L. Johnson’s artificial hip squeaked, he was bending down to pick up a pine cone in his yard in Thomasville, Ga. Mr. Johnson looked up, expecting to find an animal nearby.

Susan O’Toole, a nutritionist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, who first squeaked going up stairs after getting home from her hip-replacement surgery in 2005, said she thought the banister she was gripping needed repair.

And Edward Heary, an apprentice appraiser in Hatboro, Pa., said clients sometimes look with embarrassment or concern at their floorboards when he walks though their homes.

As all three patients — and hundreds of others — discovered once they pinpointed the source of the noises, they had become guinea pigs in an unfolding medical mystery. Their artificial hips are made of ceramic materials that were promoted as being much more durable than older models. But for reasons not yet fully understood, their hips started to squeak, raising questions about whether the noises herald more serious malfunctions.

“There is something amiss here,” said Dr. Douglas E. Padgett, chief of adult reconstructive and joint replacement service at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. More than 250,000 Americans get total hip implants each year, a procedure that generally costs close to $45,000. Hip replacements have a success rate of more than 90 percent, based on patients’ achieving relatively pain-free mobility after recovery periods that range from a few months to a year.

Any artificial hip can occasionally make a variety of noises. But until Stryker, a medical products company, began marketing highly durable ceramic hips in the United States in 2003, squeaking was extremely rare.

Now, tens of thousands of ceramic hips later — from Stryker and other makers that entered the field — many patients say their squeaking hips are interfering with daily life. One study in the Journal of Arthroplasty found that 10 patients of 143 who received ceramic hips from 2003 to 2005, or 7 percent, developed squeaking. Meanwhile, no squeaks occurred among a control group of 48 patients who received hips made of metal and plastic. “It can interrupt sex when my wife starts laughing,” said one man, who discussed the matter on the condition that he not be named.

Continue reading here That Must Be Bob. I Hear His New Hip Squeaking. – NYTimes.com.

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