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What is Birmingham Hip Resurfacing?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Birmingham hip resurfacing is a surgical procedure to repair a hip joint that has been damaged due to injury or chronic arthritis. It involves capping the end of the femur and the base of the hip with strong, protective pieces of metal that can rub against each other comfortably. Hip resurfacing is a relatively new procedure that offers patients a more conservative option than total hip replacement surgery. Patients who are under the age of 60 and prefer to enjoy active lifestyles are generally the best candidates for Birmingham hip resurfacing.

Most hip replacements last for about 30 years, which is sufficient for most older people. A younger person, especially if he or she is very active, can easily outlive the replacement, however, and need additional, riskier surgeries later in life to deal with complications. Birmingham hip resurfacing may offer a better outcome for such a patient. The procedure has a faster recovery time, allows for a more active lifestyle, and in general lasts at least as long as a replacement. If the resurfacing device does wear out, repeating the procedure or getting a hip replacement is not a major problem.

Before considering Birmingham hip resurfacing, a surgeon will review the patient's full medical history, medication use, allergies, and lifestyle choices to make sure it is a safe option. Pre-operative x-rays can determine whether or not it is possible to salvage enough existing femur bone tissue. The surgeon can go over the risks and benefits of the procedure in detail with the patient before the operation date.

On the day of the procedure, the patient is situated on an operating table and given general anesthesia. Incisions are made to grant access to the hip joint, and the femur head is carefully removed from the socket. The surgeon files the femur head to a uniform smoothness and removes damaged tissue from the hip socket. A metal cap is fitted to the head, and a protective metal cup is inserted into the socket. The surgeon can then reposition the bone and suture the surgical scars to end the procedure.

Patients are usually confined to wheelchairs or beds for the first few days after surgery. Sometime in the first week, a doctor or therapist can help a person try to stand and take a few weight-bearing steps. About six to eight weeks of guided physical therapy are usually needed before a patient can easily walk without assistance, and it can take up to three months before it is safe to return to normal activity levels. Birmingham hip resurfacing is highly effective and carries minimal risks for a majority of patients.

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