A vitamin found in avocados could transform hip replacement surgery, enabling one replacement to last a lifetime.
Vitamin E works by preserving the protective lining of the joint which tends to wear out, often requiring patients to have revision surgery.
Around 70,000 hip replacements are carried out in England and Wales each year. They are usually necessary because osteoarthritis has caused wear and tear on the original joint. The operation replaces both the natural socket and the rounded ball at the head of the thigh-bone with a prosthetic version. The head fits into a prosthetic shell, with a cushioning plastic liner in between the two parts.
Replacement hip joints typically wear out in ten to 15 years, because tiny pieces of this cushioning plastic liner break off as they combine with oxygen inside the body, causing the liner to become progressively thinner.
Over time, these loose fragments also wear away the surrounding bone, and replacing the hip joint becomes harder each time as there's less to attach it to.
As a result, people in their 30s and 40s are often told they are too young for a hip replacement, as a new joint would need several revisions. Instead they face years of pain.