Almost half a million Americans get hip replacements each year, and hundreds of thousands more receive artificial knees.
That number is expected to quadruple as younger people turn to joint replacements to stay active. If you're considering a hip or knee replacement, Consumer Reports has some important cautions.
Though for many people the surgeries are a good option, there can be serious complications. The biggest risk is infections.
Consumer Reports rated hundreds of hospitals on how well patients fared during and after hip and knee surgery and finds that it really matters where you go in terms of hip and knee replacement. (Consumer Reports' hospital ratings are available to subscribers of ConsumerReports.org.)
Another issue: how long the artificial joints will last-a particular concern for younger patients.
Consumer Reports' Safe Patient Project believes they should come with a warranty.
Director Lisa McGiffert says, "The benefits of hip and knee implant warranties are one, it tells people how long this implant's going to last. It gives them realistic expectations. And two, it gives them a clear process to follow if their implant should fail."
Consumer Reports' Safe Patient Project says the vast majority of implants are not backed by a warranty. The organization is asking manufacturers to provide 20-year warranties that would let patients replace defective hip or knee implants at no cost.