Hip resurfacing returns runners to their sport

Summary:With this procedure, only damaged parts of the femur are removed and covered with metal. Runners can run again after surgery, an alternative to total hip replacement for active people.

As an alternative to total hip replacement, hip resurfacing allows runners to return to their sport after surgery.

More than 90% of hip resurfacing patients who ran recreationally before surgery resumed running afterwards, a new study shows, making it an option for patients with severe arthritis who want to stay active after surgery. Reuters reports.

During hip resurfacing, a surgeon removes only the damaged parts of the head of the femur (thighbone). The head is covered with a metal cap, and the hip socket is replaced with a metal cup. This procedure is 5 to 15% of all hip replacement procedures.

In the traditional procedure, the entire head of the femur is removed and replaced with a metal implant, and a plastic cup replaces the hip socket. Over time, these implants wear and loosen, especially in patients who participate in activities that put repetitive stress on the joint, like running.

For this new study, the team – led by Julien Girard of the Roger Salengro Hospital in France – followed 36 male and 4 female patients, average age 51, who were runners before hip surgery.

At the end of about 3 years, 33 of 40 patients (36 of 43 hip resurfacings) were still running. They spent a similar amount of time, about 3 hours a week, running after the surgery as they had before.

The implant also feels more natural than a conventional total hip replacement because less bone is removed from the head of the femur.

Running doesn't appear to harm the longevity of the implant, but a follow-up of more than 20 years hasn’t been conducted yet.

The work was published in American Journal of Sports Medicine earlier this month. Via Reuters.

Image from Gray’s Anatomy via Wikimedia

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation


Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter.

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