Choosing the Best Hip Replacement Surgery for Your Needs
When you begin considering hip surgery, you may feel overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Should you get a metal on metal hip replacement or a plastic implant? Is minimally invasive surgery as effective as traditional surgical techniques? There are also a number of total hip replacement precautions you should keep in mind as you plan your treatment. With some research and advice, you can find the best options for your own situation.
Your Choice of Materials
Your hip joints are made of two main parts, a ball and a socket, which fit together and rotate as your body moves. Artificial hip implants are designed to restore damage in the hip joints and return your hips to a full range of motion. When surgeons perform a hip replacement, they remove the worn and diseased tissue from the hip joint, replacing it with a sturdy synthetic surface that can move freely without pain. This repair can be done with a variety of materials. The artificial “ball” is often made out of highly durable ceramic. It can also be crafted from metal. The “socket” is a cup of polished material which is designed to fit perfectly with the “ball” and give you a complete pain-free range of motion. Metal on metal hip implants have been popular for many years because of their stable and durable nature, but they have also been reported to cause osteolysis (degeneration of surrounding bone tissue), swelling, and chronic pain. Many patients find synthetic implants to be a comfortable and practical choice for their hip surgery.
How Is Hip Surgery Performed?
Traditional hip replacement surgeries are performed by making a large incision (usually 6 to 8 inches) and exposing the hip joint. The ball is removed from the socket, and the joint is examined carefully for damage. Once the surgeon has removed the worn tissue from the joint, a replacement ball and socket are inserted, and the incision is closed. When damage is extensive in a particular area of the joint, it can be “resurfaced” with custom parts. Many surgeons prefer this traditional approach, but there can be a number of disadvantages to it:
- Extended healing times for long incisions
- Trauma to tendons and muscles during surgical dislocation of the hip joint
- Longer recovery times in and out of the hospital, exposing patients to the dangers of inactivity
- Lasting effects of major surgery, such as exhaustion and immune system suppression
New Choices for Hip Surgery
New procedures are being developed to make hip surgery less of an ordeal. With modern surgical techniques, there is often no need to dislocate the hip during surgery, making the process less invasive and less stressful for the body. Shorter incisions allow the surgeon to perform the same procedures with much less tissue damage. When there is a smaller amount of disruption to the body, the process of recovery can start more quickly and be completed in up to 60% less time. Many patients are even able to return to old activities such as running and skiing once recovery is complete. Your surgeon can help you stay informed about total hip replacement precautions and the many choices available to you as you consider hip surgery.
Source: orthoinfo.aaos.org, “Questions and Answers About Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants,” Oct. 24, 2013.