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The U.S. has no nationwide registry, but high-volume U.S. hospitals report similar revision rates, and perhaps a little worse at less experienced facilities, said AAOS' Barber.
A bigger question is how the implants hold up at five years or longer. Some implants tend to fail early if they're going to at all, so rates may stabilize.
Nor could the study measure how much wear-and-tear patients put on new joints.
Enter the second study. Researchers at Massachusetts' Lahey Clinic reviewed the science to date and, disappointingly, concluded there's no good evidence to guide advice on what activities are worst for a joint's lifespan. Among findings in this month's Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery:
It's not clear how much more rapidly joints deteriorate when professional athletes get back in the game after joint replacement.
Twisting and hard landings are of particular concern.
Surgeons generally recommend low-impact walking, cycling, swimming, golf or bowling -- and advise against high-impact football, basketball, jogging and soccer. There's no agreement on others, such as baseball and singles tennis.
Hip resurfacing is targeted to younger, more athletic patients but there's no proof that they return to sports more safely than patients with traditional hip replacement.
Anyone who tries harder sports should undergo proper training of core muscles that support the joint.
"People do have very high expectations. They're not always getting those results," says Barber. "If you didn't play tennis before you got the operation, you're probably not going to play tennis afterwards."
Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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