What is a hip replacement?

Total hip replacement surgery replaces the worn out ball and socket hip joint with an artificial joint. Using the minimally invasive technique, a 3-4 inch incision is made between the back and side of the hip. Through this incision, the worn out femoral head is removed. An artificial socket having a metal shell and a plastic, metal, or ceramic insert is implanted into the worn out socket, sometimes with the use of 1 or 2 screws to help secure the socket to the patient’s bone. A metal stem with attached metal or ceramic ball is inserted into the femoral canal to replace the worn out femoral head. After the new joint has been implanted, the tissues surrounding the hip joint are repaired and the incision closed. Total hip replacement surgery using the minimally invasive technique usually takes around 1 hour to complete.

Recently, a new type of hip replacement was FDA approved: the hip resurfacing procedure. This procedure “resurfaces” rather than “removes” the femoral head and caps it with a metal cap. There are pros and cons to hip resurfacing, but it is often a particularly good choice in young, active males. See Hip Resurfacing Overview for more information on resurfacing arthroplastly.

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