WebMD—December 6, 2011
Joint replacement surgeries help millions live with less pain, but many people who have them eventually need repeat procedures when the implants loosen over time.
Now a new study suggests that commonly prescribed osteoporosis drugs may extend the life of replacement joints, but researchers say it is not yet clear which patients will benefit most from the treatment.
The study examined outcomes among patients in the U.K. who took oral osteoporosis drugs in the class known as bisphosphonates, such as Actonel, Atelvia, Boniva, and Fosamax.
Surgeon: Findings Promising, but Questions Remain
The most common cause of joint implant failure is loosening of the device due to weakening of the bone that supports it.
Bisphosphonates may work by suppressing inflammation around the implant that accelerates bone weakening.
Orthopaedic surgeon Joseph M. Lane, MD, tells WebMD that while the research on bisphosphonates in joint replacement surgery is promising, many important questions remain, such as which patients will benefit from the drugs and when should they take them.
Lane is professor of orthopaedic surgery and chief of the Metabolic Bone Disease Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Bisphosphonates can cause gastrointestinal problems, and their use has also been associated with a rare but potentially serious jaw condition.
“These drugs are not without their side effects,” Lane says. “But this is a provocative study that should put pressure on the bone community to step up to the plate and answer these questions.”
Read the full story at WebMD.com.