Hip resurfacing

Hip resurfacing

Hip resurfacing is a specialised type of surgery to relieve pain in the hip, by replacing the damaged parts of the hip joint with metal implants. Once the damaged parts are replaced, the hip has a more fluid range of motion in the hip joint, alleviating the painful symptoms caused by hip arthritis or other conditions.

Hip resurfacing is usually an option for more physically active patients and those younger than the typical age recommended for a total hip replacement surgery.

Understanding your hip anatomy

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, creating the point of articulation between the head of the femur and the acetabulum of the pelivs. The unique anatomy of the hip allows it to be remarkably strong with the ability to weightbear but it also provides flexibilty to allow for a wide range of motion.

Formed of several components which work together for effective function, the hip joint consists of:

  • Hip bones
  • Hip articular cartilage
  • Hip ligaments and tendons
  • Hip muscles
  • Synovial membrane and fluid

Problems in the hip begin to occur when one or more of these components degenerates or becomes damaged in some way.

What's the difference between hip resurfacing and hip replacement?

Hip cartilage works as a cushion in the joint, protecting the bones from rubbing on one another and allowing for smooth mobility in the joint. Over time, arthritis can wear down the cartilage in your hip and when this happens, you get bone rubbing against bone. This causes pain, inflammation and reducses mobility.

  • During a hip resurfacing procedure, your surgeon will remove the damaged or worn away parts of bone and cartilage from the ball and socket joint. Then they place a smooth metal cap onto the end of the femur (thighbone) and a smooth metal shell into the hip socket. This allows for fluid movement of the hip joint and maintains the majority of your natural hip joint anatomy.
  • During a total hip replacement procedure, your surgeon removes and replaces the entire head of the femur with a metal stem, which will have either a metal or ceramic ball on the top. They also replace the socket with a metal socket implant, lined with plastic to mimic the natural anatomy.

Who is the ideal candidate for hip resurfacing?

If nonsurgical (conservative) treatments for your hip pain have failed to improve symptoms, your Consultant might recommend hip resurfacing if you are a suitable candidate. Hip resurfacing can help to alleviate hip pain caused by osteoarthritis, but it's not recommended for everyone and should only be considered if your hip is interfering with your usual activities and negatively affecting your quality of your life.

In people over the age of 65, a total hip replacement is recommended as a more suitable surgery to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis of the hip.

Likely suitable candidates for hip resurfacing would be younger men, in their 30s, 40s, 50s or early 60s who lead active lifestyles. Although it can be done, hip resurfacing is very uncommon for women. The average age for those undergoing hip resurfacing procedures is the early 50s.

Your Schoen Clinic Consultant will talk you through the different options to help you decide which operation is best suited for your individual needs.

Hip resurfacing: the surgery

A hip resurfacing procedure takes around 2 hours to complete and you'll be kept in our specialised hospital for 1-2 nights following surgery.

Anaesthetic is usually general anaesthetic (you'll be asleep during the procedure) and your surgeon and anaesthetist will discuss this and your pain management plan prior to surgery.

During the procedure, your surgeon makes an incision in your thigh to reach the damaged hip joint. The femoral head (the ball) is dislocated from the socket and using specially designed instruments, your surgeon removes the damaged parts of bone and cartilage. Once the femoral head is clear of damage and loose parts, a metal cap is inserted on top and securely held in place with surgical cement.

The damaged cartilage from the socket is removed and a metal cup or shell is inserted in place. Then the femoral head is relocated back into the socket and the incision is closed with stitches.


Recovery & rehabilitation: hip resurfacing

After your hip resurfacing surgery is complete you’ll be taken to the recovery room and monitored by the expert nursing team as you recover from the anaesthetic. Once you’re aware and ready, you’ll be taken back to your private room on the ward where you’ll begin your carefully managed recovery.

As part of our rapid recovery programme, you’ll be encouraged to take your first steps in as little as 4 hours after hip resurfacing surgery. A member of our in-house Specialist physiotherapy team will help guide you through your first days of recovery and prepare you for your continued recovery at home. Every aspect of your recovery is planned prior to surgery to you’ll know what to expect and when to expect it.

You’ll be given pain medication in the hospital to ensure you can progress safely and once at home you’ll be able to take anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, to help with pain and swelling. It’s important that your follow your plan carefully so that you get the best outcome from your hip resurfacing surgery.

You should be able to resume normal everyday activities after 6 weeks and full, unrestricted activity, like sports by the end of 12 months.

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