Vanishing Bone: Conquering a Stealth Disease Caused by Total Hip Replacements

ISBN : 9780190687762

William H. Harris
256 Pages
138 x 210 mm
Pub date
Jan 2018
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When dozens of holes appeared in a patient's femur alongside his hip prosthesis, experts were baffled as such a phenomenon had never been seen before. Over the first four decades of total hip surgery, the severe bone destruction multiplied, crippling many thousands of patients. Eventually identified as "periprosthetic osteolysis," this devastating disease affected over 1 million patients and was the leading cause of failure in total hip surgery. While total hip surgery dramatically reversed severe arthritis of the hip, the same operation simultaneously created a relentless 'particle generator' in the body. Ironically, in the effort to do good, doctors were simultaneously doing major harm. Vanishing Bone: Conquering a Stealth Disease Caused by Total Hip Replacements takes readers on a detective adventure in contemporary medical science, from the identification of the cause of the disease through the complex process of affecting its cure. Dr. William H. Harris and his colleagues played an important role in solving the mystery of this disease, pointing to its molecular biology, recognizing the unusual wear of the prostheses, and ultimately developing a new material for use in the manufacture of hip implants. With more than 6 million people walking on this stable, low-wear material, the disease has been virtually eliminated among those with total hip replacements worldwide. Diseases are rarely observed, revealed, and eliminated in one lifetime. Vanishing Bone tells the captivating story of one such disease through an engaging account of scientific and medical innovation.


Part I. Astonishing Discoveries; Chapter 1: The Game is Afoot!; Chapter 2: The Cart Before the Horse; Chapter 3: Uniquely Creative, but Dangerous; Chapter 4: The First Real Breakthrough; Chapter 5: Meanwhile, Back at the RanchEL; Chapter 6: Is It Really Cement Disease?; Chapter 7: An Unexpected First Step; Chapter 8: Flying Blind; Chapter 9: The Gamble Pays Off; Chapter 10: Success at Last!; Part II. Final Hurdles; Chapter 11: Terra Incognita: Here Be Dragons; Chapter 12: Suddenly, to the FDA; Chapter 13: A Regrettable Diversion; Chapter 14: Unforeseen Complications; Chapter 15: Panic; Chapter 16: Ubiquitous Success; Chapter 17: Reprise: The Reward of the Clinician-Scientist; Part III. Appendix; Further Reading; Timeline of Key Events; About the Author

About the author: 

William H. Harris, MD, DSc is the Alan Gerry Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Emeritus at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The Harris Orthopaedic Laboratory at Massachusetts General was founded in 1969 and directed by Dr. Harris until 2004.

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