Hip resurfacing

What is hip resurfacing?

Hip resurfacing is an alternative to hip replacement surgery, where the surface of the thigh bone (femur) and the pelvis are replaced with metal components. As such, hip resurfacing often 'buys time' before a total hip replacement may be needed.

What does hip resurfacing involve?

Hip resurfacing surgery is performed in hospital usually under general anaesthetic though regional anaesthetic can also be used. You would normally be admitted the evening before the hip operation and normal checks will be carried out. An injection to thin your blood will be given the same evening.

You will not be able to eat for eight hours prior to hip resurfacing surgery although you will be able to drink small amounts of water up to four hours before.

Before the operation, your consultant anaesthetist will visit you to discuss which anaesthetic technique is best for you.

Hip resurfacing surgery takes between 60 and 90 minutes and your surgeon will make a small cut on the side of your upper thigh. The head of the femur is dislocated from the hip joint and reshaped to fit back into the hip joint. The socket of the hip joint is then removed to enable placement of the cup of the hip joint. The cup is inserted as an un-cemented 'press fit' which encourages your bone to grow into it. The cap for the end of the femur is cemented in place using bone cement.

Once the operation is over you would normally stay in the theatre recovery area for six hours where specially trained recovery nurses will monitor you

Hip resurfacing recovery time

You are likely to stay in hospital for four to seven days after hip resurfacing surgery, and during this time we will get you mobile as soon as possible. We will assist you to stand on the same day if the operation is carried out in the morning, if not then early on the next day. You will be able to go home once you are comfortable, walking confidently and are able to go up and down stairs with the help of a walking stick or crutch. Your physiotherapists will advise you on exercises in order to get you back to normal living and your Nurses will provide you a discharge advice sheet.

In general, the first six weeks after hip resurfacing surgery are about recovering from the operation - the next six weeks are about getting back to normal. Each patient is different of course and some people may recover quicker. There will be some restriction on driving and advice will be provided on when you can return to work.

What risks should I know about?

Hip resurfacing surgery is one of the most successful operations but there are some potential complications you should be aware of. These only affect less than 4% of patients.

  • Infection can occur although we routinely prescribe antibiotics for the first 24 hours and our theatres have ultra-clean air operating conditions keeping infection rates at 1-2%.
  • Blood clots are possible in any major joint replacement surgery but again are in the 1-4% category and have well established treatments including aspirin.
  • Dislocation of the joint and leg length inequality are possible but the risk is less than 1%. This is kept to the absolute minimum through your consultant using the recommended posterior approach to the hip joint and excellent discharge advice from your physiotherapists and nurses with a home visit if needed.

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