Researchers have found a new polymer that could improve the artificial joints used in hip replacement surgery.
Many patients with arthritis choose to undergo hip replacement surgery in order to increase mobility and relieve pain, but many find that the artificial joint does not last because of the build-up of wear particle debris.
Researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Centre in Memphis are now studying a form of polyurethane polymer that achieves a major reduction in the amount of harmful chemicals formed as a result of wear.
Dr Richard Smith revealed: "This alternative material has produced results that warrant further research to confirm its superiority as a plastic implant material."
Meanwhile, Robert Rylee, a board member of Active Implants Corporation, which sponsored the research, said that the orthopaedic industry has been searching for a better material for hip replacement surgery for over 40 years.
"This groundbreaking research demonstrates we may have found not only a replacement, but an improved material," he said.
The findings were presented at the meeting of the world's Orthopaedic Research Societies in Hawaii and the first polymer hip replacement products using the new material should be commercially available in Europe by the end of 2007.