Understanding the options: Different types of hip replacements

Hip_prosthesisIf you are considering a hip replacement, the first starting point is to understand what your options are. Consultants like Mr Manoij Sikand offer three types of hip replacements, each of which is a slightly different approach, and the recommendation is dependent on your personal circumstances.

Total hip replacement

This is a surgical operation, whereby your surgeon has assessed that the extent of decay or disease in your natural hip joint is so severe, the whole of the bone and cartilage are replaced with a man-made alternative. This operation includes the replacement of the whole of the ball and socket joint that makes up your hip.

This type of operation has been performed by surgeons for decades; it was first undertaken in 1960. Since the early operations over half a century ago, techniques and rates of success have continued to climb, and this type of operation is considered to be greatly effective.

Nevertheless, in very active (often younger) individuals, even the most effective total hip replacements may wear out over time, if put under continued stress once the healing process is complete.

Hemi replacement

If your case is less severe, you might be recommended for a hemi replacement, in which the ball of the femur is replaced by a prosthetic alternative. This is also commonly referred to as a hemiarthroplasty.

Unlike the extensiveness of the total hip replacement, during a hemi replacement surgeons will remove just the head of the femur bone and replace it with a new ‘ball’. This type of operation if often more suitable for older patients who are likely to have a lower level of activity, thereby will put less strain on the new joint.

Surface replacement

Finally, you might be considered for a surface replacement, which means the outer layer of both the ‘ball’ and ‘socket’ in your hip joint are removed and the surface is replaced with a metal lining. This procedure is designed to protect the bone and to prevent against the risk of more serious implications further down the line.

Unlike the total hip replacement and the hemi replacement techniques, this operation retains the majority of the femur bone, so is often referred to as a ‘bone conserving’ operation.

The benefit of the surface replacement is the dexterity that patients are left with post operatively. As the new prosthetic surfaces of both the ball and socket are moulded around the original bone anatomy, there is low risk of dislocation and the range of movement patients are left with is typically very broad.