Hip resurfacing has been designed for the younger, more active patient who develops arthritis of the hip. It has had a resurgence over the last 10 years due to advancement in technology and surgical techniques. It was initially tried back in the 1950-60’s, but the manufacturing processes were very crude and the precision and composition of the implants was not reliable and the failure rate was high. Hip replacements then came into fashion and have proved to be very successful. However, in the younger, fitter patients these hip replacements were not lasting as long as in more elderly patients, and when worn out were much more difficult to revise/ re-do. Thus hip resurfacing was looked at again as a concept.

The improvements in metallurgy, tribology and many clinical studies over the last 40-50 years have made a huge difference to the success rate of this technique, which is proving to be as successful at 10 years as the best hip replacements. Approximately 80,000 hip resurfacings have been implanted to date.

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Prior to surgery you will be seen by myself and my anaesthetist and the procedure and the anaesthetic options will be discussed thoroughly with you.  On the day of surgery, it is important that you do not eat and drink anything after 2.00am, which ensures that your stomach is empty and significantly reduces any risk of aspirating stomach contents during the procedure.  I will mark your limb and obtain your signature for consent and then you will proceed down to the operating theatre.

The hip is dislocated out of it’s socket. The head of the femur is then retracted out of the way of the socket so that the socket cartilage can be removed and the socket prepared for the insertion of the thin metal cup (approx 3mm thick) The metal cup is inserted and held in place by the bone of the socket – it is a tight fit. Then head of the femur is then prepared with special reamers, shaving off a few mm’s of bone and cartilage from around the circumference of the head. This is done with a number of precise jigs and other tools. The metal cap is then cemented onto this prepared ‘head’ and the head is put back (reduced) into its socket. The muscles and tendons are then sutured and repaired to where they were cut from.

In your postoperative course as an in-patient, which is approximately 2-4 days, you will be seen daily by either myself or my anaesthetist, by the physiotherapist and obviously you will be looked after by the nursing staff.  During that time, we aim to turn you from an anxious patient with a painful hip back into a reassured, pain-free 25-year-old who will feel confident in going back into the outside world and taking up all your old hobbies, activities and sports.  I am proud to work at Southern Cross North Harbour and feel that the standard of care patients receive is exceptionally high and second to none.  The dedication of the nursing staff and allied health care professionals is exemplary and I would have every confidence in a member of my family going there for surgical or medical treatment.

Recovery from surgery once home

Different people recover at different rates. The final success of a hip resurfacing is many years of pain-free normal hip function. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to do some rehabilitation and generally look after yourself.

  • It is important to walk every day, as this increases muscle, ligament and tendon strength. It will rebuild your muscles that will have become wasted as a result of the painful arthritis, and it will help to increase the density of your bone, preventing osteoporosis.
  • It is important to take good care of your skin, both on the operated site and around the rest of the body. Your skin is a protective barrier against infection and any breach in this barrier could potentially allow infection into the blood supply, which may result in seeding of the infection in the artificial hip joint. This in itself is likely to require a significant amount of further treatment (both surgery and medical treatment) to cure the infection.
  • Dental hygiene should be a high priority and any abscesses should be dealt with prior to hip replacement surgery. Following hip replacement surgery, it is important that abscesses are treated promptly and comprehensively with antibiotics to stop infection travelling in the blood supply around to the hip joint.
  • Most hip joints are designed to give you almost normal hip movement. However this is not a completely normal movement. There is one particular movement which should not be attempted as this may result in a dislocation (the ball coming out of the socket – extremely painful!). This position, WHICH SHOULD BE AVOIDED, is with the knee bent up and in, and the foot bent up and out. I will run over the safe and the unsafe positions with you both before and after surgery and if you ever have any concerns, just remember both knees and ankles together is safe.

I am currently in the process of setting up a specific rehabilitation program following hip resurfacing, to enable patients to get back a high level of fitness and function. Please ask about this.

Risks and complications

  • Deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism (DVT/PE) – blood clots in the veins in the legs or lungs
  • Neurovascular injury – damage to nerves or blood vessels Infection – which can be superficial in the wound or deep in the new joint Dislocation – where the ball comes out of the socket
  • Fracture – where the bone breaks around the hip joint
  • Leg length discrepancy – where one leg is longer than the other
  • Trochanteric bursitis – inflammation and pain over the bony part of the femur, just under the wound
  • Myocardial infarct (heart attack) or CVA (stroke).
  • Stiffness due to heterotrophic ossification (exuberant bone growth around the hip joint).
  • Leg swelling and stiffness – this always occurs to a greater or lesser extent and resolves over 4-6 weeks
  • Haematoma (an accumulation of blood around the surgical site that may require drainage.
  • Loss of blood during surgery that may require a blood transfusion.
  • Numbness, pain or itchiness around the scar.

What causes hip problems/ pain?

There are a number of causes for hip problems. The most common is osteoarthritis (wear and tear, generally related to age). Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition whereby the lining of the joint becomes extremely inflamed and starts to destroy the healthy articular cartilage. Some times the joint does not develop normally from birth (developmental dysplasia of the hip) and sometimes the blood supply to various parts of the femoral head is interrupted and this bone slowly dies (avascular necrosis).

Severe trauma, such as an intra articular fracture or dislocation, can produce post-traumatic arthritis and fractures in the neck of the femur, which occur in people with osteoporosis, may also require hip replacement surgery.

A hip replacement is also called a Hip arthroplasty (the technical term). Its aim is to alleviate pain and provide a near-normal range of movement. During the procedure the head and neck of the femur are removed and the inside few millimeters of cartilage and bone in the acetabulum are also removed and an artificial joint is inserted.

 

When should I have surgery?

The decision for surgery should be made by the patient in conjunction with the orthopaedic surgeon. In the vast majority of cases, the decision should be made by the patient, only rarely should an orthopaedic surgeon persuade a patient to consider a hip replacement sooner rather than later (e.g. concerns that the ball or the socket are wearing out, which would mean that the surgical technique becomes significantly more difficult and this may result in a less successful outcome). Most patients deciding on surgery will be having pain on a daily basis. There is often a constant underlying baseline ache, which is made worse by certain movements, activities or positions (e.g. going for a walk, getting in and out of a car or trying to put on shoes and socks). In the first instance, simple pain relief such as Panadol may help with these symptoms. Often patients who are able to take anti-inflammatory medication will find good relief of their symptoms and sometimes stronger painkillers, which are prescribed by a medical professional, will be required as the hip pain worsens. Quite often, the pain will get worse at night and may even keep people awake, or wake people up from sleep. Physiotherapy and various activities and movements, such as swimming, may also be beneficial to the joint and may help relieve some of the pain and stiffness. The stiffness typically makes it difficult to sit in a low chair, put on shoes and socks and paint or clip toenails / wash between the toes. Whilst painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication, exercise modification and walking aids, e.g. walking stick may help the symptoms, they will not cure the diseased hip. The hip will slowly deteriorate and it is at this point when non-operative measures have been tried and exhausted, most orthopaedic surgeons would recommend the consideration of joint replacement.

All patients who have had a hip resurfacing will be seen approximately 4-6 weeks after surgery in an outpatient clinic. Further questions can be answered and it is about this time that I tend to suggest an activity-based rehabilitation programme to increase peoples‚ strength, fitness and stamina. The recovery up to the 6-week mark is generally the same for most people and I would advise avoiding the gym or swimming for the majority of this time.

 

Driving

The issue of driving depends upon the patient, which hip has been operated on and whether it is a manual or an automatic gearbox on the car. As a general rule, most insurance companies would not cover a driver if he/she was involved in an accident and had had a hip resurfacing within 4-6 weeks of the accident. After 4-6 weeks, it is generally considered that a patient is safe to drive and perform an emergency stop. This is not just the simple mechanics of pushing on a pedal with the foot, but also whether someone is still requiring pain relief medication, which can cloud judgement, swiftness or response and manual dexterity. Thus, at 4-6 weeks, most patients do not require any form of pain relief and are mobile enough to get in and out of the car and perform the physical act of driving. Most patients, I find, are able to drive to their first outpatient consultation which may be at about the 4-6 week mark, and I would suggest having a gentle try-out a few days before, doing small distances.

 

When can I return to work?

I would suggest that most patients have approximately 6 weeks off work, if still in employment, for very similar reasons to those given above for driving. It is important to rehabilitate and do the exercises that will be shown to you in hospital and also it is my experience that after this form of surgery, most patients are really quite tired for 3-4 weeks and require more sleep and rest than usual. Obviously, each individual job should be taken into account, and I can discuss this further with you when we meet up.

 

How long will my new hip last?

We do not know exactly how long an individual hip will last. It will vary, depending on the type of hip replacement (prosthesis), the surgical technique, the activity level of the patient, other patient factors (e.g. co-morbidities, obesity) and a little bit of luck. When a hip replacement wears out, it is still possible in almost every case to revise the hip and put in a new hip joint. However, the complications and the risks associated with revision surgery are slightly higher than with surgery first time around. The long-term results are also slightly less predictable.

+ Proceedure

Prior to surgery you will be seen by myself and my anaesthetist and the procedure and the anaesthetic options will be discussed thoroughly with you.  On the day of surgery, it is important that you do not eat and drink anything after 2.00am, which ensures that your stomach is empty and significantly reduces any risk of aspirating stomach contents during the procedure.  I will mark your limb and obtain your signature for consent and then you will proceed down to the operating theatre.

The hip is dislocated out of it’s socket. The head of the femur is then retracted out of the way of the socket so that the socket cartilage can be removed and the socket prepared for the insertion of the thin metal cup (approx 3mm thick) The metal cup is inserted and held in place by the bone of the socket – it is a tight fit. Then head of the femur is then prepared with special reamers, shaving off a few mm’s of bone and cartilage from around the circumference of the head. This is done with a number of precise jigs and other tools. The metal cap is then cemented onto this prepared ‘head’ and the head is put back (reduced) into its socket. The muscles and tendons are then sutured and repaired to where they were cut from.

+ Post operative course

In your postoperative course as an in-patient, which is approximately 2-4 days, you will be seen daily by either myself or my anaesthetist, by the physiotherapist and obviously you will be looked after by the nursing staff.  During that time, we aim to turn you from an anxious patient with a painful hip back into a reassured, pain-free 25-year-old who will feel confident in going back into the outside world and taking up all your old hobbies, activities and sports.  I am proud to work at Southern Cross North Harbour and feel that the standard of care patients receive is exceptionally high and second to none.  The dedication of the nursing staff and allied health care professionals is exemplary and I would have every confidence in a member of my family going there for surgical or medical treatment.

+ Recovery

Recovery from surgery once home

Different people recover at different rates. The final success of a hip resurfacing is many years of pain-free normal hip function. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to do some rehabilitation and generally look after yourself.

  • It is important to walk every day, as this increases muscle, ligament and tendon strength. It will rebuild your muscles that will have become wasted as a result of the painful arthritis, and it will help to increase the density of your bone, preventing osteoporosis.
  • It is important to take good care of your skin, both on the operated site and around the rest of the body. Your skin is a protective barrier against infection and any breach in this barrier could potentially allow infection into the blood supply, which may result in seeding of the infection in the artificial hip joint. This in itself is likely to require a significant amount of further treatment (both surgery and medical treatment) to cure the infection.
  • Dental hygiene should be a high priority and any abscesses should be dealt with prior to hip replacement surgery. Following hip replacement surgery, it is important that abscesses are treated promptly and comprehensively with antibiotics to stop infection travelling in the blood supply around to the hip joint.
  • Most hip joints are designed to give you almost normal hip movement. However this is not a completely normal movement. There is one particular movement which should not be attempted as this may result in a dislocation (the ball coming out of the socket – extremely painful!). This position, WHICH SHOULD BE AVOIDED, is with the knee bent up and in, and the foot bent up and out. I will run over the safe and the unsafe positions with you both before and after surgery and if you ever have any concerns, just remember both knees and ankles together is safe.

I am currently in the process of setting up a specific rehabilitation program following hip resurfacing, to enable patients to get back a high level of fitness and function. Please ask about this.

+ Complications/Risks

Risks and complications

  • Deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism (DVT/PE) – blood clots in the veins in the legs or lungs
  • Neurovascular injury – damage to nerves or blood vessels Infection – which can be superficial in the wound or deep in the new joint Dislocation – where the ball comes out of the socket
  • Fracture – where the bone breaks around the hip joint
  • Leg length discrepancy – where one leg is longer than the other
  • Trochanteric bursitis – inflammation and pain over the bony part of the femur, just under the wound
  • Myocardial infarct (heart attack) or CVA (stroke).
  • Stiffness due to heterotrophic ossification (exuberant bone growth around the hip joint).
  • Leg swelling and stiffness – this always occurs to a greater or lesser extent and resolves over 4-6 weeks
  • Haematoma (an accumulation of blood around the surgical site that may require drainage.
  • Loss of blood during surgery that may require a blood transfusion.
  • Numbness, pain or itchiness around the scar.
+ FAQ's

What causes hip problems/ pain?

There are a number of causes for hip problems. The most common is osteoarthritis (wear and tear, generally related to age). Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition whereby the lining of the joint becomes extremely inflamed and starts to destroy the healthy articular cartilage. Some times the joint does not develop normally from birth (developmental dysplasia of the hip) and sometimes the blood supply to various parts of the femoral head is interrupted and this bone slowly dies (avascular necrosis).

Severe trauma, such as an intra articular fracture or dislocation, can produce post-traumatic arthritis and fractures in the neck of the femur, which occur in people with osteoporosis, may also require hip replacement surgery.

A hip replacement is also called a Hip arthroplasty (the technical term). Its aim is to alleviate pain and provide a near-normal range of movement. During the procedure the head and neck of the femur are removed and the inside few millimeters of cartilage and bone in the acetabulum are also removed and an artificial joint is inserted.

 

When should I have surgery?

The decision for surgery should be made by the patient in conjunction with the orthopaedic surgeon. In the vast majority of cases, the decision should be made by the patient, only rarely should an orthopaedic surgeon persuade a patient to consider a hip replacement sooner rather than later (e.g. concerns that the ball or the socket are wearing out, which would mean that the surgical technique becomes significantly more difficult and this may result in a less successful outcome). Most patients deciding on surgery will be having pain on a daily basis. There is often a constant underlying baseline ache, which is made worse by certain movements, activities or positions (e.g. going for a walk, getting in and out of a car or trying to put on shoes and socks). In the first instance, simple pain relief such as Panadol may help with these symptoms. Often patients who are able to take anti-inflammatory medication will find good relief of their symptoms and sometimes stronger painkillers, which are prescribed by a medical professional, will be required as the hip pain worsens. Quite often, the pain will get worse at night and may even keep people awake, or wake people up from sleep. Physiotherapy and various activities and movements, such as swimming, may also be beneficial to the joint and may help relieve some of the pain and stiffness. The stiffness typically makes it difficult to sit in a low chair, put on shoes and socks and paint or clip toenails / wash between the toes. Whilst painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication, exercise modification and walking aids, e.g. walking stick may help the symptoms, they will not cure the diseased hip. The hip will slowly deteriorate and it is at this point when non-operative measures have been tried and exhausted, most orthopaedic surgeons would recommend the consideration of joint replacement.

+ Follow-up and surveillance

All patients who have had a hip resurfacing will be seen approximately 4-6 weeks after surgery in an outpatient clinic. Further questions can be answered and it is about this time that I tend to suggest an activity-based rehabilitation programme to increase peoples‚ strength, fitness and stamina. The recovery up to the 6-week mark is generally the same for most people and I would advise avoiding the gym or swimming for the majority of this time.

 

Driving

The issue of driving depends upon the patient, which hip has been operated on and whether it is a manual or an automatic gearbox on the car. As a general rule, most insurance companies would not cover a driver if he/she was involved in an accident and had had a hip resurfacing within 4-6 weeks of the accident. After 4-6 weeks, it is generally considered that a patient is safe to drive and perform an emergency stop. This is not just the simple mechanics of pushing on a pedal with the foot, but also whether someone is still requiring pain relief medication, which can cloud judgement, swiftness or response and manual dexterity. Thus, at 4-6 weeks, most patients do not require any form of pain relief and are mobile enough to get in and out of the car and perform the physical act of driving. Most patients, I find, are able to drive to their first outpatient consultation which may be at about the 4-6 week mark, and I would suggest having a gentle try-out a few days before, doing small distances.

 

When can I return to work?

I would suggest that most patients have approximately 6 weeks off work, if still in employment, for very similar reasons to those given above for driving. It is important to rehabilitate and do the exercises that will be shown to you in hospital and also it is my experience that after this form of surgery, most patients are really quite tired for 3-4 weeks and require more sleep and rest than usual. Obviously, each individual job should be taken into account, and I can discuss this further with you when we meet up.

 

How long will my new hip last?

We do not know exactly how long an individual hip will last. It will vary, depending on the type of hip replacement (prosthesis), the surgical technique, the activity level of the patient, other patient factors (e.g. co-morbidities, obesity) and a little bit of luck. When a hip replacement wears out, it is still possible in almost every case to revise the hip and put in a new hip joint. However, the complications and the risks associated with revision surgery are slightly higher than with surgery first time around. The long-term results are also slightly less predictable.

+ Useful Links