Surgical implants serve several functions in the body. Some provide support to tissues and organs. Others monitor functions of the body or deliver medications directly where they are needed. Among the most common implants are prosthetics that replace missing parts of the body.

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It is common for implants to be made of a metal alloy, such as ASTM F139. People who have allergies to metal may benefit from an implant made from ceramic or metal. The material from which an implant is made depends partly upon its purpose. For example, bone grafting involves the implantation of bone matter into a fracture or defect.

Surgical implants are fairly common, but some occur more frequently than others.

1. Replacement Joints

Arthritis can reduce the joint space between two bones, causing pain and limiting function. Artificial joint replacement can increase function and relieve pain. Joint replacement happens most often in weightbearing joints of the lower extremities, including the knees and hips. Every year in the United States, 543,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed, as well as 230,000 hip replacement procedures. However, there are other joints that can be replaced with prostheses. Shoulder replacement is also fairly common.

2. Spinal Fusion Hardware

Weakness or pain in the back can be addressed with spinal fusion hardware including artificial discs, screws, and rods. A fusion procedure involving these types of hardware limits the movement of two or more vertebrae in the back. This type of procedure is performed approximately 413,000 times per year in the United States.

3. Cardiac Implants

Millions of people in the United States experience cardiac arrhythmia. Depending on the seriousness of the issue, there are two types of implants that are most often used to maintain the regular rhythm of the heart. Cardiac surgeons implant 235,567 pacemakers per year, as well as 133,262 implantable cardioverter defibrillators.

These types of implants are generally intended to be permanent. A surgeon will usually only remove them if an infection or some other problem occurs. Other types of implants can be removed once they’ve served their purpose.