Drug to treat brittle bones could HALVE number of hip replacements that need to be re-done


Drug to treat brittle bones could HALVE number of hip replacements that need to be re-done, scientists say

  • Drug to treat osteoporosis could halve number of hip replacement re-operations
  • Scientists have discovered the drug denosumab could help protect the hip bone
  • An estimated 8,500 hip revision procedures are carried out each year on NHS

A drug used to treat osteoporosis could halve the number of hip replacement re-operations, scientists said yesterday.

An estimated 8,500 hip revision procedures are carried out each year at huge cost to the NHS. 

The repeat procedures, which increase the risk of infection and other complications, are also less effective than first-time surgery.

A drug used to treat osteoporosis could halve the number of hip replacement re-operations as scientists have discovered the drug denosumab could help protect the hip bone (stock image)

But scientists have discovered the drug denosumab – already used to treat bone disease – could help protect the hip bone and dramatically cut the number of re-operations.

Professor Mark Wilkinson, who led the study by Sheffield University, said it was ‘particularly good news’ for younger or more active patients who tend to wear away the plastic part of the implant more quickly. 

He said a primary hip replacement costs around £6,000, and revisions up to £18,000.

The leading reason for hip reoperation is osteolysis – a disease that eats away at bone tissue, causing it to weaken and dissolve.

The leading reason for hip reoperation is osteolysis - a disease that eats away at bone tissue, causing it to weaken and dissolve

The leading reason for hip reoperation is osteolysis – a disease that eats away at bone tissue, causing it to weaken and dissolve

The disease occurs after joint replacement surgery when tiny particles wear off from the implant, causing the body’s immune system to attack the already weakened bone.

This causes the artificial joint to loosen, causing pain and eventually requiring revision surgery.

The team found giving denosumab to patients could have a ‘huge impact’ on thousands of patients who undergo revision surgery every year.

The trial, which involved 22 patients at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, found denosumab killed around 90per cent of the cells responsible for bone loss in patients due to have revision hip surgery.

Professor Wilkinson added: ‘It is very clear from our bone biopsies and bone imaging that the injection stops the bone absorbing the micro-plastic particles from the replacement joint and therefore could prevent the bone from being eaten away and the need for revision surgery.

‘We are now hoping to conduct a much bigger Phase 3 clinical trial and are seeking opportunities to continue this ground breaking research which could revolutionise how we treat patients found to be at risk of needing a secondary joint replacement.’

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