What Your Hip Replacement Implants Are Made Of

Even though hip replacement surgery is one of the most common and successful orthopaedic procedures, it can still raise lots of questions. You may be wondering what kind of joint replacement implant you will get and what it is made of. What parts of your hip will be replaced?

Your hip is made of two main components: the ball and the socket. When a hip replacement is performed, damaged parts of the joint are removed and resurfaced.  The ball-and-socket is then replaced with an artificial implant. The surface of the ball and socket replacement parts become the parts that will move and allow the new hip mobility. The materials used in the implant depend on different factors, including:

  • Age of the patient
  • The activity level of the patient
  • Surgeon’s preference
  • Particular deformities/abnormalities of the hip

Typically, there are four individual components to total hip replacement implants:

  1. Stem—inserts into the femur or thigh bone
  2. Cup—inserts into the pelvic bone
  3. Ball—fits onto the end of the stem
  4. Liner—inserts into the cup—essentially becomes your new cartilage

The stem is usually made from cobalt-chromium and/or titanium. If your stem is cemented (inserted with bone cement), then it will be cobalt chromium metal, and if it is cementless (designed for bone to grown into metal), it will be a titanium one. Both designs have excellent long-term results as part of total hip replacement system.

The cup, or acetabulum, is made from titanium or tantalum metals. Both of the metals are tolerated well by human bone and provide excellent surfaces for bony attachment.

The ball, or femoral head, fits on the end of the stem. It comes in different diameters, depending on the size of the cup that fits into pelvis. The ball can be made of ceramic, commonly referred to as porcelain or cobalt-chromium – the most common material used in the past.

The liner fits into the cup and serves as your new cartilage. This part is the most susceptible to wear. In the early days of hip replacement, these parts only lasted about 10 years. Today, the improvements made in the materials used allow for greater longevity of this part of the implant.

Ceramic is one of such materials. It is very strong and provides low wear rates when used with a ceramic ball. Polyethylene, a plastic has been improved in the recent years. It is the most common liner used in today’s hip replacement practice. It is usually coupled with ceramic or cobalt chromium balls.  Cobalt -chromium liners are also sometimes used, paired with a plastic ball. For certain patients this may be a good option.

During your consultation with an orthopedic surgeon you should discuss your options and pros and cons of each material. Together you can make the best decision for your particular case. Many studies have shown hip implants can last beyond 15 years from the original surgery. If you need help connecting with a wait-free private facility and surgeon in the US Health Vantis is here to assist. Give us a call toll free 1877 344 3544.

2 replies
  1. Bertha JONES
    Bertha JONES says:

    5/30/2019 had surgery, still having problems, two physical therapy two different times. Fill like ball is too large. Is 2nd surgery necessar

    • Health Vantis
      Health Vantis says:

      Hi Bertha – We are not a medical facility and are not able to provide any kind of medical advice. You could schedule something with your orthopedic specialist and discuss with him/her. I hope all goes well!


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