Using bone-strengthening drugs may increase the longevity of joint replacements and cut the failure rate by half, a new study has suggested.
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.
“With such a high incidence of knee and hip replacement surgery, the possibility that the life of joint implants could be lengthened and reduce the number of complex revision surgeries means that these results have the potential to make significant improvements to the lives of many NHS patients,” she said.
The study has been published on the British Medical Journal website.