Total joint replacement may be preferable over resurfacing procedures

October 3, 2012

Topic: total joint replacements

Researchers discovered that patients who have a large number of comorbidities prior to total hip arthroplasty surgery are more likely to be readmitted later on.

Clinicians may recommend that younger and more physically active patients get hip resurfacing rather than a total joint replacement. However, a recent study published in the journal the Lancet revealed that this procedure is more likely to fail, as compared to the latter option. In addition, hip resurfacing should not be performed on women because of its low implant survival rate.

Researchers looked at the records of approximately 434,650 hip operations performed between 2003 and 2011. For this procedure, an orthopaedic surgeon applies a metal surface to both the head of the femur and the inside of the acetabulum, rather than replacing the entire joint, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This prevents the need to remove the components of the ball-and-socket joint. Some doctors consider the procedure advantageous because they are easy to fix if the capping becomes loose, there is a decreased risk of hip dislocation, and patients tend to have a greater range of motion.

Despite these benefits, it may be best for surgeons to avoid the procedure.

"Our findings show that resurfacings with smaller head sizes are prone to early failure, and in particular that resurfacing in women has much worse implant survival, irrespective of head size," said Ashley Blom, the lead researcher of the study, as quoted by the BBC. 

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