Health Alert: Hip resurfacing vs. replacement

NATIONAL - About 350,000 patients have hip replacement surgery every year. Some experts believe 45,000 thousand of them are candidates for a 'hip' new surgery.

Working in an emergency room keeps Ron Balliet on the run, but hip arthritis stopped him in his tracks.

Balliet says, "The pain - it just got so bad I couldn't deal with it anymore. I had to give up certain things. I couldn't play golf, I couldn't, I would ride my bike, I would be paying for it days later."

Ron's active lifestyle led to hip osteoarthritis.

"It just got kind of depressing you know. You feel your independence and all that go away."

Instead of total hip replacement surgery, Ron chose hip resurfacing. Rather than remove the end of the thigh bone and replace it with a metal stem, only a few centimeters of the bone are shaved off and it's capped with a small artificial metal joint.

Dr. Marc Umlas says, "The main advantage is that you preserve your own bone. You leave more of the patient's own bone in the hip." Which creates a more stable, mobile and natural joint.

"A number of patients have returned to running marathons, and playing tennis and skiing on these devices and that's a significant advantage, especially for a younger person who's used to being active and athletic and wants to go back and pursue those activities," added Dr. Umlas.

Good candidates must have strong bones. It's still major surgery, so expect to spend several days in the hospital followed by physical therapy.

"It was a life changing experience, because now I have full motion again. I really don't have any restrictions with movement," says Ron.

Many of these patients will still need full hip replacement surgery, but at least this procedure buys them time. Hip resurfacing should last about ten years.

Posted by Bryce Mursch