Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research

, Volume 467, Issue 1, pp 28–31 | Cite as

The First 50 Years of Total Hip Arthroplasty: Lessons Learned

  • William H. Harris
Symposium: Papers Presented at the Hip Society Meetings 2008


Fifty years have passed since the first total hip arthroplasty of the modern era was performed. At this, the vantage point, it is reasonable to review these five decades, inquiring behind the single dominating observation that, in its current form, this operation is one of the most successful of all surgical procedures for the management of end-stage human disease. What are the generic lessons that can be derived from the experience? Succinctly, five major observations appear valuable. They are “skunk works,” “Pasteur’s motto,” “the totally unexpected,” “research solutions,” and “the role of alternatives.” “Skunk works,” an industrial management term, might be characterized as an innovative endeavor that is offline and off-budget resulting from the relentless pursuit of a vivid dream by creative zealots who eschew defeat. Pasteur’s motto dealt with serendipity, which was crucial to total hip arthroplasty progress. The totally unexpected is represented by an entirely new manmade disease, “periprosthetic osteolysis.” The research solutions are represented by the complex, sophisticated contemporary research that has unraveled periprosthetic osteolysis and suggested modes of correction. Finally, the application of “alternatives” has characterized major progress. Importantly, these, or similar generic observations, may provide insights into important progress in the future.


Femoral Component UHMWPE Massive Bone Loss Periprosthetic Osteolysis Alternate Bearing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Harris Orthopaedic Biomechanics and Biomaterials Laboratory and the Adult Reconstruction UnitMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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