Hip Joint Operations
One of the largest joints in the human body is the hip. A healthy hip joint will be surrounded by cartilage to support the joints and stop the bones from rubbing against each other. The ‘ball and socket joint’ is connected by ligaments and lubricated to help prevent friction. Sometimes, hip joint operations become necessary.
A hip replacement is necessary when the joint becomes damaged and causes persistent pain or mobility problems. Osteoarthritis is the main cause for hip joint operations. Severe hip fractures and rheumatoid arthritis may also lead to surgery to replace the hip joint.
Degenerative osteoarthritis of the hip joint, also known as coxarthriosis, is the most common cause of hip problems in adults. Hip joints are most frequently prone to osteoarthritis and the destruction of the articular cartilage. Often, the existing damage is not discovered until very late in the progression of the disease. This is usually at the stage where the patient is already experiencing restricted movement and/or pain.
If osteoarthritis is not treated, it inevitably leads to the failure of the hip joint. The destruction of articular cartilage as the bone surfaces rub against each other causes extreme pain and inflammation.
Hip Joint Operations
In many cases, the replacement of the hip joint with metal alloy prosthesis is the only solution. However, aside from the risks associated with having hip replacement surgery, there are also other concerns. More specifically, metal sensitivity and metal toxicity as a result of the mechanical rubbing of the artificial metal joint surfaces.
Treating coxarthrosis – Two operational strategies
There are two different operational strategies to treat coxarthrosis depending on the degree of damage. If there’s still enough cartilage present at the hip joint, it may be possible to preserve the joint. However, in the absence of sufficient cartilage, the joint socket and joint head may need replacing with metal prostheses.
Joint-preserving surgery is less common compared with hip replacement surgery. This is usually because the symptoms of coxarthrosis frequently go unnoticed until there isn’t enough cartilage remaining to perform this preservation procedure.
Often joint-preserving surgery is performed following an injury, such a motor vehicle accident for example. The surgery realigns joint surfaces and prevents joint abrasion to protect remaining cartilage. This procedure is more commonly performed on younger adults with a strong bone structure.
In elderly patients with advanced osteoarthritis, a hip replacement is typically the only option. Tens of thousands of people have hip replacement surgery every year in the UK. During the procedure, all joint surfaces must be replaced with metal implants. Generally, 90% of these artificial joints last for 10 years, with 80% lasting for up to 20 years.
However, hip replacement surgery won’t restore full mobility. Patients generally have the same level of mobility as they had prior to the surgery, although their discomfort should be significantly reduced. In addition to the physical shortcomings associated with hip replacement surgery, there are also the risks that may arise from the metal alloys themselves.