Hip resurfacing is an alternative surgical procedure to hip replacement for many active patients. Hip resurfacing differs from a hip replacement in that the femoral head and neck are not removed and replaced with synthetic parts. In hip resurfacing, the worn surfaces of the femoral head and acetabulum are smoothed out, and covered with metal bearing surfaces. This allows greater conservation of the patient’s bones.
This procedure is preformed through a posterior approach. After a hip resurfacing patients are generally allowed to bear weight as tolerated. This is an inpatient procedure requiring a minimum of one nights stay in the hospital. Physical therapy works with the patient during their hospital stay and upon return to home or a rehab facility to maximize their hips condition during the recovery phase.
Hip resurfacing is intended for young, active males who may eventually need a hip replacement. Perhaps the greatest benefit associated with hip resurfacing is the conservation of bone relative to a total hip replacement. By preserving the femoral neck, concerns about post-operative leg length discrepancy are virtually eliminated. Patients with a hip resurfacing may still undergo a total hip replacement in the future; a total hip replacement following a resurfacing comes with fewer complications than a revision hip replacement.
A risk unique to a hip resurfacing that is not seen in a total hip replacement is a femoral neck fracture. When elderly persons “break their hip”, this is usually the affected area. When a hip replacement is done, this bone is removed, thus it cannot break. However, when a hip resurfacing is performed, the femoral neck is preserved.
Who is a candidate for hip resurfacing?
Active males less than 60 years of age are generally candidates for a hip resurfacing. In rare cases, there may be too much damage to the femoral head in this group, rending the patient a candidate only for a total hip replacement
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Image: The right acetabulum and femoral head have been resurfaced.