Got Hip Pain? Get Back in the Game Quickly with Hip Resurfacing

hip resurfacing procedureIn my practice at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, I see a lot of patients who suffer from hip pain as a result of osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease. In the past, when surgery was called for, hip replacement was often the best option—and in many cases, it still is. However, in 2006 the FDA approved the first total hip resurfacing implant in the United States, allowing patients suffering from serious hip pain another highly effective option.

Unlike total hip replacement, in which the diseased head ball of the hip (femoral head) is completely removed, total hip resurfacing preserves the femoral head and removes only the damaged surface of the bone.

Only a small number of surgeons in the Atlanta area have the training and expertise to perform this procedure properly. I have been performing total hip resurfacing procedures at Emory since 2007, with excellent patient outcomes. This specialized operation has a number of potential advantages for the right patient. Total hip resurfacing can:

  1. Preserve bone
  2. Restore the natural anatomy of the hip
  3. Provide the largest possible head size to improve hip stability
  4. Enable restoration of hip function to allow a multitude of activities
  5. Allow for an easier revision (re-do) in the future, if needed

So who’s the perfect hip resurfacing patient? Hip resurfacing is best suited for the young, active male (<55 years of age) with osteoarthritis of the hip and normal hip anatomy. Healthy and active at 45, Mark Gabriel was the ideal candidate. I met Mark last year, after he’d been suffering from pinching and pain in his hip for a year and was referred to me for surgery. Mark, a director for an Atlanta IT solutions and staffing company, was in great shape, save for his hip. His hip pain had resulted in large part from 40 years of playing tennis on hard-surface courts. As he put it, his hip was like a brake pad that had been used too much. Eventually it wore out. Resurfacing his hip was a great way to preserve the hip bone and allow Mark to get back to the active lifestyle he enjoyed.

In July of 2009, I performed Mark’s hip resurfacing surgery at Emory University Orthopedic & Spine Hospital (EUOSH), our state-of-the-art inpatient facility. Mark was put under general anesthesia for the procedure, which went smoothly and took about two hours. Because Mark is young and had stayed active by cycling up to his surgery date, he recovered from the surgery quickly. He stayed in the hospital just two nights and was off pain medication completely three days after surgery. After six days, he was down to one crutch and was back to walking around his neighborhood.

Mark says that he is 100% satisfied with the results of his hip resurfacing. In the year since the procedure, he’s played tennis five days a week, enjoyed golf, and gone skiing. He chooses clay courts over hard surface when he has the option, but Mark is back in the game and loving life after hip surgery.

Have you had hip surgery, or are you considering hip resurfacing? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

About Greg Erens, MD:
Greg Erens, MD,  is assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and director of the Emory Adult Reconstruction Fellowship. Board certified in orthopedic surgery, he specializes in both uncomplicated and complex problems of the hip and knee. Dr. Erens started practicing at Emory in 2003.

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