What Is Osteolysis And What Should I Do About It?

Dr. Richard Illgen answers the question: 'What Is Osteolysis, What Should I Do?'

ByRichard Illgen, M.D., Assistant Prof., Orthopedics, Univ. of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

— -- Question: What is osteolysis and what should I do about it?

Answer: Osteolysis is a process that results from particulate disease. What does that mean? Particulate disease means the particles that are generated from where after your hip or knee has been put in your body. So as you walk on a hip or walk on a knee little particles are generated typically of plastic but it could be of other materials.

Those particles activate your own immune system, the white blood cells within your body, to result in an inflammatory process that can then result in bone loss. Bone loss around hip or knee replacements can ultimately result in loosening or fracture and the need for revision surgery. What patients need to know about this is that it's a silent disease in most cases. It doesn't hurt when you lose this bone.

What that means for you as a patient is that you need to be followed by orthopedic surgeon after your hip or knee replacement for many years. And every two or three years probably have an x-ray to make sure you're not losing bone due to this process called osteolysis.

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