Hip resurfacing is a very different procedure than a total hip replacement.
In a total hip replacement, both the femoral head (the head of the thigh bone) and the damaged socket are removed and replaced with an implant.
In hip resurfacing, the femoral head is not removed. Instead, it is trimmed and covered with a smooth metal implant. Damaged bone and cartilage in the socket is removed and a metal shell is put in its place, as in a total hip replacement.
Hip resurfacing advantages
Some of the advantages of a hip resurfacing over a total hip replacement include:
- A resurfaced hip may be easier to revise. Hip implants over time can wear out, necessitating another operation called a revision. Because hip resurfacing leaves most of the femoral head intact, changing failed implants may be easier.
- Resurfaced hips tend to have a greater range of motion than hips that have been totally replaced.
- There is a reduced risk of hip dislocation, though a number of other factors can affect this risk.
- Patients who have had hip resurfacing tend to have a more natural gait.
Hip resurfacing risks
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks that must be weighed against the advantages. Some of the risks of hip resurfacing include:
- Some patients have had the femoral neck fracture after a hip resurfacing. If this happens, it is often necessary to replace the resurfacing with a traditional hip replacement.
- When a hip is resurfaced, a metal ball moves within a metal socket. The friction over time leads to metal particles (called ions), which in some patients may cause pain and swelling.
- Hip resurfacing is a more challenging operation than a total hip replacement, requiring a larger incision.
Who should have a hip resurfacing?
Hip resurfacing isn't right for everyone. Generally, patients younger than 60 with strong, healthy bones are the best candidates.
Hip resurfacing is often recommended for patients who had advanced osteoarthritis that has not improved with conservative, nonsurgical treatments.
Older, small-framed females with weak bones have a greater risk of complications, making them poor candidates for hip resurfacing.
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