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Prosthetic hip. Close-up of the components of a prosthetic (artificial) hip joint, including the metal ball and shaft, and a plastic socket. Prosthetic hip joints are used to replace diseased hip joints that have become stiff and painful as a result of arthritis. In a hip replacement, the "ball" at the end of the thigh bone is removed and the "socket" in the pelvis is enlarged. The arti- ficial components are then cemented in their place, the shaft fitting into a specially made hollow inside the thigh bone. Hip replacement is a very successful operation that has transformed many lives, but the long-term outlook is uncertain as the artificial joint may loosen with time.
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