My father had a hip joint resurfacing surgery. He's fairly active and thought this would help save the hip in case he needed a hip replacement later. Unfortunately, exactly four months later, his hip broke and he ended up with a total hip anyway. Is this a common problem? We don't know what to think about it.
Hip joint resurfacing has the main advantage of preserving bone in the neck of the femur (thigh bone). The main disadvantage is the risk of overloading the femoral neck causing fracture or loosening of the implant.
Patients are chosen carefully for this procedure to avoid these problems. But sometimes unexpected complications occur anyway. Joint resurfacing is fairly new, so we don't know all the risk factors or variables that might lead to implant failure.
One new area of study has been to look at the amount of load placed on the femoral neck before and after implantation. It's possible that too much load on the hip too early after the surgery could lead to fractures.
How much load the hip can take isn't known yet. This could vary from patient to patient depending on their bone density, anatomical angles of the hip, and body weight. Studies are also being done to examine the effect of slight variations in the placement of the implant. Even a 10-degree rotation of the implant can make a difference.
More study is needed to look at patient risk factors and surgical techniques that might lead to hip fracture. Reducing these risk factors will help decrease the number of fractures and other complications of joint resurfacing.
Thomas Parker Vail, MD, et al. Position of Hip Resurfacing Component Affects Strain and Resistance to Fracture in the Femoral Neck. In Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. September 2008. Vol. 90. No. 9. Pp. 1951-1960.
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