By means of bone-strengthening drugs the longevity of joint replacements may be prolonged and failure rate could be slashed by half, suggests a new study. Researchers analysed data from patients who were taking bisphosphonates, which are used to prevent the loss of bone material.
They looked at data from General Practice Research Database for joint replacements and compared what happened to 1,912 patients taking bisphosphonates with 41,995 patients who did not.
After five years, 1.96 percent of implants failed without the drug, compared with 0.93 percent in those taking medication.
Prof Nigel Arden, a specialist in rheumatic diseases at the Universities of Oxford and Southampton, said the first implant would approximately cost the NHS 7,000 pounds, but replacements would cost 34,000 pounds.
"It has the potential to have a huge impact," the BBC quoted Arden as saying.
The chief medical officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies welcomed the findings.
The study has been published on the British Medical Journal website.