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Hip resurfacing or hip replacement, which is right for you?

doctor and patientThe first step in deciding whether you should have a rip surfacing treatment or a hip replacement is to understand the fundamental differences between the two: 

Hip replacement is a common procedure that has been used successfully over the last 60 years to alleviate joint pain in those with degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, or who have incurred some sort of injury to their hip.  With a total hip replacement, both the femoral head and the acetabulum (the pelvic groove into which the femur head fits) are entirely replaced by prosthetic parts and a metal stem is inserted into the bone to connect them.

Hip resurfacing on the other hand is a relatively recently developed procedure in which only the articular surface of the joints are replaced.  The femoral head is instead coated with cobalt-chrome metal cap and the hip socket with a matching cup.

When choosing between the two techniques, it is important to know the risks with each procedure and to keep in mind who the procedure was developed for.  With hip replacement, the most common complication is dislocation post-surgery.  Tissue surrounding the join takes around 8-12 weeks to completely heal, and during this time it is easier for the femoral head to slip out of the pelvic pocket.  Patients recovering from a total hip replacement must be very careful not to place their leg in positions which may result in dislocation.  Because of this, hip replacement is not recommended for those who will be returning to a highly active lifestyle.

Hip resurfacing on the other hand allows for a shorter recovery time, and many patients who undergo this treatment are able to perform physically demanding feats such as running a marathon.  It also removes less bone mass and because of this leaves room for subsequent revision surgery, if needed.  Hip resurfacing is an excellent alternative to hip replacement for young, active patients who may need multiple revision surgeries. However, a person should have good bone quality to undergo this procedure. It is ideal for those who have hip pain caused by arthritis but don’t have other joint or bone disorders like osteoporosis.  Those whose bones are deteriorated or weak are at risk of having the metal cap on the bone becoming loose, or the bone itself breaking, and therefore are not good candidates for hip resurfacing.

Patients should always talk to their doctor to determine whether or not they are a candidate for hip replacement or hip resurfacing procedures.


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