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

It’s all in the procedure.

Most of us are familiar with total joint replacement, which replaces both the hip socket and the ball of the leg (femoral head) with man-made components that relieve pain and allow movement.

Hip resurfacing is another form of joint replacement. During a hip resurfacing procedure the socket of the hip joint is replaced with the traditional metal shell, but the femoral head, or the ball part of the joint, is treated differently. Instead of a complete replacement, the orthopedic surgeon trims and caps a person’s existing femoral head with a smooth metal covering.

If you are a candidate for hip replacement or hip resurfacing, discuss the risks and results of both procedures with your orthopedic surgeon. Here are some aspects of the surgeries to keep in mind.

  • Hip resurfacing retains more of a person’s natural bone than a total hip replacement. If a second hip operation is needed in ten or 20 years, hip resurfacing may make revision surgery a bit easier because less bone was removed during the initial procedure.
  • Retaining more of a person’s bone during hip resurfacing may also increase the risk of thigh-bone fracture at the femoral head during surgery. If this occurs, it’s necessary to proceed with a total hip replacement.
  • Total hip replacement removes the femoral head, eliminating the possibility of fracture. However, fractures can and do occur around any implanted orthopedic component.
  • Hip resurfacing may be a more complicated procedure than a total hip replacement. The surgeon needs access to manipulate the femoral head, which often requires a longer incision.
  • Some people are concerned the metal-on-metal construction of the hip resurfacing components may cause the metal to degrade and allow metal particles to enter the bloodstream.
  • Today, many hip replacements use a combination of metal and a medical-grade polyethylene material. Ask you surgeon which types of hip components he or she uses.

Are you confused yet? If so, don’t be. The best way to make your decision about total hip replacement or hip resurfacing is to speak with an orthopedic surgeon about your condition. Based on your health history and your goals for mobility, he or she will be able to recommend the surgery that will provide you with the best results.

Call (920) 996-3700 to request your appointment with a hip replacement expert.

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Madison Center at St. Elizabeth Hospital
1531 S. Madison St.
4th floor
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 996-3700

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