What is hip resurfacing?
Hip resurfacing is a type of surgery to replace a damaged hip joint.
In the hip joint, the rounded head of the thighbone (the femoral head) moves smoothly
inside the round socket of the hip bone. Normally, the socket is lined with cartilage,
which helps the bones move smoothly. When there is damage to this joint, moving the
femoral head may cause pain as the bones scrape together abnormally.
During hip resurfacing, your surgeon makes an incision to access your hip bone and
thighbone. Next, he or she trims and caps your femoral head with a smooth metal covering.
Your surgeon also removes the part of the damaged bone with the hip bone socket, replacing
it with a metal shell.
Hip resurfacing is a type of hip replacement surgery. In traditional hip replacement
surgery, the surgeon removes your femoral head completely instead of just capping
it with a metal covering. He or she also replaces the socket of the hip bone, just
like in hip resurfacing surgery.
Why might I need hip resurfacing?
You might need hip resurfacing if you have significant damage to your hip joint. Different
types of medical conditions can damage this joint, like:
- Osteoarthritis (most common)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Injury or fracture of the hip joint
- Bone tumor in the hip joint
The damage to your hip joint, if significant, eventually causes pain and can interfere
with your activities of daily life. Hip resurfacing may help decrease your pain, improve
your joint mobility, and result in a better quality of life. Usually, healthcare providers
only recommend hip resurfacing if you still have significant problems even after the
use of other, more conservative treatments, like pain medicines and assistive walking
Talk with your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of having hip resurfacing
instead of traditional total hip replacement. Hip resurfacing may decrease the risk
of certain complications, like hip dislocation. However, it may increase the risk
of other complications, such as femoral neck fracture. If you have hip resurfacing,
it may make it easier for your healthcare provider to perform later revision surgery
on your joint than in the case of total hip replacement. Hip resurfacing may be a
better choice for some people. This is especially true for younger adults (less than
60 years) with larger frames and healthy bones.
What are the risks of hip resurfacing?
Most people do very well with their hip resurfacing surgery. However, as with any
surgery, the procedure does carry some risks. Possible complications of hip resurfacing
- Excess bleeding
- Blood clots
- Injury to nearby nerves
- Femoral neck fracture
- Dislocation of the hip joint
- Complications from anesthesia
Your own risk of complications may vary according to your age and your other medical
conditions. For example, people who smoke may have an increased risk of poor bone
healing. Ask your healthcare provider about the risks that most apply to you.
How do I get ready for hip resurfacing?
Ask your healthcare provider how you should plan to prepare for your surgery. Ask
whether you should stop taking any medicines ahead of time, like blood thinners. If
you are a smoker, you should try to quit before your surgery. Do not consume food
or drink after midnight the night before your procedure. Your healthcare provider
may order additional imaging tests, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), of your
How is hip resurfacing done?
Your healthcare provider can help explain the details of your particular surgery.
The details of your hip resurfacing surgery will depend on the nature of the injury
and the surgical approach. An orthopedic surgeon will perform the surgery aided by
a team of specialized healthcare professionals. The whole operation may take 2 or
3 hours. In general, you can expect the following:
- Most likely, you will receive general anesthesia, so you’ll sleep through the operation
and won’t feel any pain and discomfort during the procedure. (Or you may receive spinal
anesthesia and a medicine to keep you relaxed but awake.)
- A healthcare professional will carefully monitor your vital signs, like your heart
rate and blood pressure, during the operation. You may have a breathing tube inserted
down your throat during the operation to help you breathe.
- You may receive antibiotics, during and after the procedure, to help prevent infection.
- Your surgeon will make an incision in your thigh, usually on your back side, cutting
through skin and muscle.
- Your surgeon will take your femoral head out of the hip joint socket. He or she will
trim the head with special instruments, placing a metal cap over the head.
- Someone will then remove the damaged cartilage and bone lining the socket.
- A metal cup is pushed into the socket.
- Your surgeon will place the femoral head back in the socket.
- The surgeon will surgically close the layers of skin and muscle around your incision.
What happens after hip resurfacing?
Talk with your healthcare provider about what you can expect after your surgery. You
may have some pain around your incision after your procedure, but pain medicines may
help to relieve the pain. You should be able to resume a normal diet fairly quickly.
You may have imaging done, like an X-ray, make sure your surgery was successful. Depending
on the extent of your injury and your other medical conditions, you might be able
to go home within the next couple of days.
Your healthcare provider will let you know when you can put weight on your leg. You
might need to use a cane or crutches for a few days or weeks. You may need to work
with a physical therapist, who can help you maintain range of motion and strength.
You will probably be able to resume many of your regular activities within 6 weeks
of the surgery.
You might have some fluid draining from your incision. This is normal. Let your healthcare
provider know right away if the fluid from the incision turns yellow or white or if
there is an increase in redness, swelling, or draining from your incision. Also, let
your healthcare provider know if you have a high fever, chills, or severe pain that
is not improving. Make sure to keep all of your follow-up appointments with your orthopedic
surgeon. You will probably have your stitches or staples removed a week or so after
The mechanical components of your hip may wear out or loosen over time. Because of
this, you may need a revision surgery 10 to 20 years after your original hip resurfacing
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
- The name of the test or procedure
- The reason you are having the test or procedure
- What results to expect and what they mean
- The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
- What the possible side effects or complications are
- When and where you are to have the test or procedure
- Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
- What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
- Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
- When and how will you get the results
- Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
- How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure