Advanced arthritis of the hip patients are generally good candidates for either hip resurfacing arthroplasty or the traditional hip arthroplasty (replacement). Both these procedures are a type of hip replacement surgeries, albeit with important differences. Orthopedic surgeons generally talk about the different procedural options & as to which one of these operations would be best suited in individual cases. Head of the thighbone which is also known as the femoral head & the acetabulum which is the damaged socket are both removed & replaced with ceramic, plastic, plastic-on-metal or metal-on-metal hip resurfacing surgery procedures. When the femoral head is not removed but it is trimmed & capped with smooth metal covering in hip resurfacing surgery, the damaged cartilage & bone within the socket is removed & replaced with a metal shell like it is done in a traditional total hip replacement surgery.
Benefits of Metal-on-Metal Hip Resurfacing Surgery
Benefits of metal-on-metal hip resurfacing surgery over traditional total hip replacements are widely debated among orthopedic surgeons. Some common advantages of this procedure are listed below.
- Hip Resurfacing Surgery is Easy to Revise – Since artificial implants which are used in hip resurfacings are mechanical components, they can & often do wear-out or loosen over time. This is typically found to occur between 10 – 20 years after hip resurfacing surgery has been performed. This is an average estimate although these implants can also last longer or shorter periods of time. Whenever these artificial implants fail, an additional operation therefore becomes necessary. This means, that a second procedure, commonly known as revision surgery & which is far more complicated than the initial surgical intervention, becomes inevitable. However, since hip resurfacing procedure generally removes lesser bone from thighbone (femur) than a traditional hip replacement procedure, orthopedic surgeons believe that it is quite easier to exchange artificial implants which fail after the hip resurfacing surgery procedure.
- Normal Walking Pattern – Various studies have revealed that walking patterns of patients are far more natural following hip resurfacing surgery procedures when compared with traditional hip replacement surgeries. Although these differences in walking patterns are quite subtle, they can still be measured with help of specialized instruments.
- Decreased Risk of Hip Dislocation – Size of the hip joint ball is larger in size in hip resurfacing procedure than it is in the traditional hip replacement. It is in fact closer to the natural ball of the hip & due to this fact it is much harder to dislocate. However, several factors can affect risk of dislocation including the surgical approach & the size & type of implant which has been used.
Read More: All about Hip Replacement Procedure
Disadvantages of Metal-on-Metal Hip Resurfacing Surgery
- Femoral Neck Fractures – There is a small percentage of hip resurfacing surgery patients who will eventually fracture the thighbone at the femoral neck. In case this occurs, it is essential to convert the hip resurfacing into traditional hip replacement procedure. Femoral neck fractures are no more possible with traditional hip replacement procedure simply because femoral neck is typically removed during the hip replacement procedure. Nevertheless, fractures around the artificial implants can still occur with hip replacement surgery procedures.
- Metal Ion Risk – A metal ball moves within a metal socket following metal-on-metal hip resurfacing surgery operations & which over time lead to production of tiny metal particles known as ions. Some hip surfacing patients are found to develop allergy or sensitivity to these metal particles which can cause swelling & pain.
- Hip Resurfacing is a Difficult Operation – Hip resurfacing is a much more difficult procedure to perform than the traditional hip replacement surgery. Moreover, a larger incision is also usually required for the hip resurfacing surgery procedure.
Also Read: Types of Hip Replacement Surgery
Ideal Candidates for Metal-on-Metal Hip Resurfacing Surgery
- Orthopedists usually recommend metal-on-metal hip resurfacing surgery for people with advanced osteoarthritis & who have failed to benefit from nonsurgical treatment options. Surgery in general is only considered when hip problems are affecting quality of life & interfering with normal everyday activities.
- Hip resurfacing surgery is not suitable for all patients unlike hip replacement surgery. Best candidates for hip resurfacing procedure are most often young & less than 60 years of age. They are also strong with healthy bones & possess a larger-framed body. Patients who are old, female & small-framed with weak or damaged bones are at higher risk of developing complications including femoral neck fractures.
- Only a comprehensive evaluation by orthopedists can help determine whether a candidate is suitable for hip resurfacing surgery procedure.
Metal-on-Metal Hip Resurfacing Surgery Implants
Metal-on-metal hip resurfacing surgery implant consists of a trimmed femoral head capped with metal covering. All damaged cartilage & bone within socket is removed & replaced with metal acetabular component of the implant. Hip resurfacing surgery intends to preserve bone on the femoral side as failure of the resurfacing implant on femoral side would eventually allow for revision to a traditional primary femoral component. Moreover, most often only metal-on-metal hip resurfacing surgery implants are normally available.
Last Word on Metal-on-Metal Hip Resurfacing Surgery
Hip resurfacing surgery or hip resurfacing arthroplasty effectively helps restore function & comfort to the damaged hip joint by arthritis or other degenerative disorders. Main benefit of hip resurfacing procedure is that the patient can be much more active postoperatively when compared to conventional hip replacement procedure. Moreover, hip resurfacing patient is also left with more bone in case a total hip replacement surgery is required later in life. Motivated patients with persistent rehabilitation efforts following hip resurfacing surgery can be assured of best possible results from this procedure.