What are the differences between hip replacement and hip resurfacing?

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When your hip has been damaged by arthritis, your surgeon could recommend either hip resurfacing or hip replacement surgery. The hip is a ball and socket shaped joint, the ball is situated at the top of the thigh, while the socket is located at the side of the pelvic bone.

Difference between hip resurfacing and total hip replacement

Where the surgeon recommends hip resurfacing, this will involve a reshaping of the damaged surface of the femoral ball, which will then be covered with a circular metal cap. This procedure can have limitations as it will only work for bone that has not been too damaged by arthritis. In general, hip resurfacing will not be carried out when patients have very serious arthritic conditions, as the bone may not be strong enough so there is some risk of it fracturing. This means that hip resurfacing tends to be recommended for patients around 50 years of age or less. On the whole, hip resurfacing will only be an option for about 7% of patients.

When a total hip replacement is required, the surgeon takes away the entire ball and will then add a metal stem anchor at the top of the thigh bone. The stem fits entirely into the canal area to give stability and is capped with a ball, which may be fabricated from a variety of materials including polyethylene, cobalt-chrome alloy and ceramics. A variety of ball diameter sizes and cup designs are also available, making hip replacement far more commonplace as a procedure than hip resurfacing.

Both hip resurfacing and hip replacement entail the reshaping of the surface area of damaged bone and the installation of a metal cup. Hip resurfacing is limited to the use of only a certain kind of metal bearings which can wear over time and release debris. This does cause an added limitation to suitable hip resurfacing patients as some surgeons will not use this procedure on women of childbearing age in case any released metal ions affect the procedure of any pregnancy.

Dr Charles Riviere is a specialist in customised hip and knee replacements and provides a range of clinics across London. Get in touch for more information.

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