Titanium and polyethylene are, of course, relatively modern developments. In the 1940s and ‘50s, both the materials and the procedure were in their infancies.
One early artificial hip came from a surgeon named Austin Moore. But his version was just a half hip: a metal replacement on the femur side, no artificial socket. “None of them were very effective,” Dorr says. Part of the problem was how doctors attached the implant to the femur. “You just kinda pounded the stems into the bone.” The implants could work loose. Plus, the prosthesis fit directly into the natural socket—metal against bone. Ouch. “It probably was only 30 to 40 percent successful,” Dorr estimates.
Moore - Selection - Process - Legend - Implant
Moore’s material selection process was also fairly homespun. Legend has it, when deciding whether to make the implant out of cobalt chrome or stainless steel, he buried samples of both in his backyard. When he dug them back up, the steel had rust, but the cobalt chrome did not. (Moore even mounted one of his fake hips to his Chrysler as a hood ornament.) “I don’t think the FDA would pass that today,” quips Dorr.