Hip Resurfacing: An alternative to Total Hip Replacement?


Following on from our look into the Andy Murray Hip, this article aims to expand your understanding of hip resurfacing surgery, an alternative to Total Hip Replacement. Ideal for a younger patient demographic, hip resurfacing offers unique advantages, including bone preservation and enhanced stability, catering to those aspiring to maintain an active lifestyle. Join us as we navigate the intricacies of this procedure, its benefits, and suitability.

What is hip resurfacing surgery? How does it work?

Hip resurfacing is an alternative procedure to Total Hip Replacement . It is an open surgery which involves reshaping the bone and cartilage of the femoral head (the ball of the thigh bone) and the acetabular socket to accept two new metal implants that will function as the new articular surface. Once the metal parts have been fitted intra-operatively (either with acrylic cement or the prosthesis itself may have a special coating which bonds directly to the bone), of course the surgeon then will close the incision on the outside of the hip with stitches. The patient then will be woken from the anaesthetics.

What are the advantages of this procedure over a conventional Total Hip Replacement?

Hip resurfacing preserves far more bone of the femur which is crucial for young patients who will likely require future surgery. So, this type of surgery is more commonly offered to a younger patient population (under mid to late 50s).

As in the future, a Total Hip Replacement would mean removal of the entire femoral head and its substitution with a metal prosthesis down the shaft of the femur too.

In case of hip resurfacing, the implant's large surface provides greater stability than a conventional Total Hip Replacement . Hence the chances of returning to higher level activities and sports.

When is hip resurfacing needed?

This procedure is most often performed for substantial changes caused by osteoarthritis.

But it may be offered to patients who live with rheumatoid arthritis or e.g. have osteonecrosis (a condition which causes the bone tissue to die due to lack of blood supply e.g. following trauma).

How successful is hip resurfacing?

It is a highly successful procedure. According to several studies 94% and above.

Patient are usually pleased to regain their:

  • Pain free, normal range of motion (or indeed more than their pre-operative due to their often pre-existing degeneration)
  • Ability to do running and even impact sports (which would loosen the metal prosthesis of a conventional Total Hip Replacement , leading to its failure and the need of substantial revision surgery)

What are the further benefits of this procedure?

The aforementioned, large surface area does not only lead to greater everyday stability and easier revisions, but fewer dislocations too.

It is a newer, more recently developed procedure than conventional Total Hip Replacements, but early studies found that its longevity is very promising.

When is it not recommended? And what are the risks?

If you have weaker bones – e.g. due to osteoporosis, your consultant may face limitations. This often impacts more so upon ladies over 50.

Like with all surgeries, there is a risk of infection and blood clots.

But other limitations are:

  • Metal ion risk / toxicity due to the materials used and their articulation which can create debris
  • Nerve damage
  • Femoral neck fracture

Where is hip resurfacing available?

It is offered both across the NHS and by private care providers if a patient is deemed appropriate for the procedure.

How swift is the recovery from this procedure?

Patients usually can not drive for 6 weeks and often require 6-12 weeks off work too, depending on the nature of their job roles.

Post-operative appointments are provided by both orthopaedic consultants and specialist physiotherapists to aid the rehabilitation.

If we can support you with your recovery here at the White House Clinic or you have any questions regarding hip resurfacing, do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help with our expert input.

Zsóka Balogh

Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner & First Contact Practitioner Team Lead

Zsóka qualified from Keele University in 2015 with a BSc (Hons) degree in Physiotherapy. She is a fully registered clinician with the HCPC and the CSP.

Zsóka Balogh

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