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What is hip resurfacing?

Doctor looking at x-ray of pelvis

Hip resurfacing is surgery to treat chronic hip pain due to arthritis and other hip conditions. It involves implanting a new socket into your hip joint, similar to hip replacement. However, hip resurfacing keeps more of the femur (thighbone) than hip replacement. Hip resurfacing can restore pain-free range of motion and hip function.

Your hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The ball of the femur fits into a socket in your pelvic bone. In both hip replacement and hip resurfacing, surgeons clean out the socket and line it with an artificial surface. 

The difference between the procedures lies in what happens to the femur. Hip resurfacing involves reshaping the ball or head of the femur, fitting it with a metal cap, and relocating the ball back into the socket.

Hip replacement involves removing the ball or head of the femur and some of the bone below the ball, called the femoral neck. Surgeons then insert a long stem with an artificial ball into the thighbone. The artificial ball inserts into the socket to form the hip joint. 

Hip resurfacing has some advantages over hip replacement. It keeps more of the femur intact and provides greater hip stability after surgery. You can also have a hip replacement in the future if needed.

Hip resurfacing is major surgery with serious risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having hip resurfacing. 

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 24, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) System – P040033. United Stated Food and Drug Administration.
  2. Hip Resurfacing. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
  3. Hip Resurfacing. DePuy Synthes.
  4. Hip Resurfacing: An Overview. Hospital for Special Surgery.
  5. Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62.
  6. The Hip Resurfacing/Hip Replacement Debate. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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