Hip procedures explained

When most people hear ‘hip operation’ they think hip replacement, but – perhaps not surprisingly – it’s a bit more complicated than that.

If you’re suffering from hip problems that are affecting your ability to carry out everyday tasks, then hip surgery might be necessary, but which operation you have will depend on a number of factors; your diagnosed hip problem will of course be the most important of these, but your age and how active you are will also come into play.

There are three major categories of hip operation, although this is not exhaustive. Here are the top three explained:

Total hip replacement

This is the best known and probably the most common operation for hip problems. It is generally thought of as a procedure for older patients, and although that is not necessarily the case, it is true that some of the other options available nowadays are less suited to the older population.

In a traditional hip replacement procedure, a long incision (between 10 and 12 inches) is made on the side of the hip, and the muscles are split to give the surgeon a good view of the hip itself. The femoral head (the part of the joint that fits into the socket) is then removed and replaced with a metal stem, topped with a metal or ceramic ball.

The procedure can take several hours and is usually performed under general anaesthetic. Once your operation is complete you will need to spend a few days in hospital in order for the surgical team to assess your recovery.

Minimally-invasive total hip replacement

Minimally-invasive total hip replacement is a similar procedure to traditional hip replacement surgery, but special instruments are used in order to perform the operation through smaller incisions.

There are two types of minimally-invasive hip replacement – single-incision surgery, in which one incision of between three and six inches is made in the hip, and two-incision surgery, in which two smaller incisions are made: one two-inch incision over the groin and one one-inch incision above the buttock.

Two-incision surgery may take longer than traditional hip replacement surgery, and the length of hospital stay is similar, but the advantages of minimally-invasive hip surgery are reduced pain and a quicker recovery time.

Minimally-invasive hip replacement is best suited to younger, fitter patients.

Hip resurfacing

Hip resurfacing is similar to traditional hip replacement, but instead of removing the femoral head completely, it is trimmed and capped with a metal covering. The damaged cartilage and bone from the socket is also removed and replaced with a metal shell.

As a general rule, candidates for hip resurfacing are younger, often larger-framed patients who have strong, healthy bones and lead an active lifestyle.

You will need to have a full consultation with Birmingham hip surgeon Mr Manoj Sikand to find out which – if any – of these procedures is suitable for you.