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The Difference Between Hip Replacement Surgery and Hip Resurfacing

Hip and Knee Replacement CenterAll through the last three decades, hip replacement was considered the gold standard for treating diseased or malfunctioning hip joints. Like all other joint replacement surgeries, it offers a new lease on life to patients suffering from arthritis or those with injury to the hip joint. Currently, there is another treatment for hip joint disease; hip resurfacing surgery. It is a popular alternative and many patients have undergone the procedure since it gained approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These two treatment options are similar in several ways but also have unique differences.

The hip joint is basically a ball and socket. The ball is formed by the head of the thigh bone (femur) while the socket is formed by another bone. In hip replacement surgery the head and neck of the femur together with the socket are removed, being replaced with artificial prostheses. On the other hand, in hip resurfacing, the head of the femur is not removed. Instead, it is reshaped then fitted with a metal cap. This difference in surgical technique used allows for comparison between the two surgeries as follows:-

  • Hip Replacement Surgery leads to greater bone loss because of the removal of the head of femur. For this reason, it is usually done on older patients whose lifespan roughly equals that of the prostheses. This is because subsequent hip replacement surgery is associated with poor outcome. Hip resurfacing allows for preservation of bone which makes it a suitable alternative for younger patients. Such patients are likely to outlive the lifespan of their prostheses and may therefore need a second surgery later on in life. A second surgery becomes possible because they still have a significant amount of bone.
  • Different materials are used for the two surgeries; in hip replacement, the femur head is replaced by metallic prostheses with a stem that is fitted into the bony canal of the femur. The socket is replaced with a hemispherical cup whose bearing surface could be metallic, plastic or ceramic. Contrastingly, in hip resurfacing, the femur head is capped by a metallic top and the socket as well is metallic. During movement, the two metallic surfaces rub on each other with dispersal of minute metal ions usually of cobalt and chromium. These ions disseminate in the bloodstream posing a potential danger to the body because safe levels of these metals in the human body have not yet been established. For this reason, some surgeons discourage hip resurfacing in female patients of child bearing age because of unknown effects of these metals on pregnancy.
  •  Hip Resurfacing only works for bone that has not been severely damaged by arthritis. A very diseased bone cannot be re-shaped and expected to function well as it is done in the technique of hip resurfacing. It needs complete replacement thus hip replacement surgery is preferred in these cases.
  • Compared to hip replacement, hip resurfacing is associated with a lower risk of dislocation in the future. This is because with preservation of bone, the ball of the joint has a larger diameter that allows it to fit snugly.

For questions on these topics or any other information you may need on Joint Replacement Surgery abroad, please give us a call at 1-800-721-4445 or fill out the Get a Free Quote form on the right.

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