MIKE DEVLIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MIKE DEVLIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Hip prosthesis. A hip joint component after 20 years in use. This is the ball and shaft part of the joint. In use, the shaft is cemented in an artificial hole bored in the femur (the long bone of the upper leg), and the ball articulates with a socket in the pelvis. The shaft here is covered in brown patches where the cement has been eroded over time. The ball is scratched, which reduces the efficiency of the joint. These implants have a limited lifespan, and must be replaced if they start to come loose. Hip joint replacements are performed when the natural hip joint is severely damaged, usually due to osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease).
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