Introducing Helica - An Advancement in Total Hip Replacement


August 2011 : Vetspecs are very proud and very excited to be able to bring to New Zealand an entirely new hip prosthesis! 

Hip osteoarthritis can be a significant debilitating condition in the dog.  It most commonly develops as a consequence of hip dysplasia/hip laxity but can also be seen following hip trauma, for example, fractures and dislocations and as a sequel to developmental conditions like Legg-Perthes-Calves disease.

Patients that respond to medical strategies are generally not candidates for surgery but in those patients that are not successfully controlled, the myriad of surgical procedures described for hip OA can be rather “bamboozling”.  Regardless, the goal of any hip surgery is to provide a return to pain-free and optimal limb use. 

Total hip arthroplasty/replacement is a well-established procedure in both the human and veterinary worlds.  Cemented endoprostheses are reported to achieve favourable results but they have also been associated with complication rates as high as 22%.  The most frequent complications include infection, luxations, bone infarcts, bone fractures, sciatic neuropathy and aseptic implant loosening.  Post mortem examinations by Frankel et al (2004) revealed 86% of cases showed evidence of endoprosthetic loosening.  Complications associated with joint replacement surgery are often not ‘minor’ things to deal with and may necessitate the loss of the prostheses (a rather expensive and round-about way of achieving a femoral head and neck excision!) or revision of the endoprosthetics. 

 Cementless hip replacement technologies have thus been extensively investigated.  These rely on long lasting osteointegration of bone onto the prosthetic matrices in order to ensure the implant’s long life.  Helica is an exciting new cementless system that is based on the results in human medicine using ‘screw’ and ‘short-stem’ prosthetic methodology.  The Helica technique has several key advantages over other systems, making it an exceptionally attractive option in the world of hip replacement surgery:

  • The relative ease of implantation and the associated shorter surgical times reduce costs and infection risks. 
  • The Helica system is associated with lower postoperative luxation rates (<1%) compared to other techniques. 
  • Helica’s short-stem technology preserves femoral bone stock which is advantageous for younger patients and in those needing revision surgeries. 
  • Helica implants can be easily removed if necessary and they are compatible with other cemented and cement-less prostheses. 
  • The way in which the Helica stem is implanted in the femur results in favourable ‘stress protection’ compared to other systems; stress protection is an important phenomenon which can facilitate aseptic loosening.  
  • Finally, a very unique and attractive advantage of Helica is that its screw methodology affords instant implant stability in addition to its later-developing osteointegration. This fact makes owner compliance with respect to post operative exercise restriction easier to achieve.

We would be delighted to discuss any of your hip cases with you and we look forward to being of continued and advancing service to you, your clients and your patients alike.


  1. Hach and Delfs, VCOT pp 153-8, 2009
  2. Frankel et al., VCOT pp 216-24, 2004
  3. Personal communication, Helica training course, San Diego, July 2011