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Charnley hip joint

the first practical hip replacement North West,

Black-and-white photograph of a surgical implant with one end long and tapering, the other rounded to fit in a socket.
Charnley-type hip replacement made from cobalt alloy by Charles F Thackray Ltd. Science Musuem/ Science & Society Picture Library

A persistent squeak led a Manchester orthopaedic surgeon to develop a revolutionary medical technology. In the early 1950s surgeon John Charnley (1911-82) examined a patient with an artificial hip replacement made from acrylic. The hip squeaked so loudly that the man’s wife would avoid being in the same room as him. 

Many materials had been tried in artificial hips, from ivory to metals. Charnley dedicated years to perfecting a replacement, despite many setbacks connected to the use of PTFE. His final result was a two-component hip replacement made of metal and plastic. 

The metal part, or ‘femoral component’, was placed in the femur, which was hollowed out during surgery. The plastic part, called the ‘acetabular cup’, was cemented into the pelvis. These two parts combined to make a joint similar to a natural one. Charnley’s design continues to form the basis of hip replacements to this day. 

Science Museum

North West
Key Individuals
John Charnley,