Orthopedic implants are devices that replace or support damaged joints or bones in the body. Pins, rods, screws and plates are the most common implants. Metal rods may be used to prevent bones from breaking. Orthopedic implants are made of plastic, ceramic, stainless steel and titanium. Metallic implants usually are lined with plastic, which serves as artificial cartilage. Implants can be cemented or screwed into place. Alternately, pressure from surrounding muscle and ligaments can fix the implant in place. Both methods may be used for certain procedures, such as a hip replacement.
Patients with primary bone cancers may require orthopedic implants. Bone cancer can cause weakened, brittle bones, which may result in compression fractures of the spinal vertebrae. In addition, implants may be a treatment option for patients with metastatic breast, colon, lung or prostate cancer that has spread to the bone, along with those who experience orthopedic problems with any type of cancer. Our Orthopedic Oncology Program provides advanced orthopedic procedures for primary bone cancers and metastatic cancers that spread to the bone.
Orthopedic implants are most frequently used to treat osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the space between your bones, causing pain, swelling and reduced motion. Bones that repeatedly rub together can lead to permanent joint damage. Orthopedic implants may be used to treat joint degeneration in the hip, knee, shoulder and elbow. Implants may restore normal function by increasing mobility and reducing pain.
Surgery is required to secure the implant where it’s needed. Non-surgical methods are often the first line of treatment. Implants are used when non-surgical methods, such as weight loss and physical therapy, do not work. Orthopedic implants wear out after several years, so implants in younger patients may need to be replaced.