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Hip replacement options

Before you have hip replacement, it's a good idea to learn a little bit about the different ways the surgery can be done and the types of implants that can be used.

Hip replacement surgery isn't one-size-fits-all. There are many surgical options, so your experience might be different from that of friends or family who have had their own hip replacements. Talk to your surgeon about the approach, type of surgery and implant that's best for you. Knowing about your options can help you ask questions and make the right choice for your new hip.

Surgical approaches

One of the big decisions in hip replacement is the way the surgeon gains access to the hip joint. There are two possibilities:

  • Posterior approach. This is the most common technique today. In it, the surgeon gets at the joint from the back of the hip. A benefit is that this approach doesn't disturb hip abductor muscles.
  • Direct anterior approach. The surgeon accesses the joint from the front. This option may provide a quicker initial recovery time.

There are pros and cons to each approach, but outcomes are similar. The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons suggests the best approach is the one your surgeon is most comfortable with.

Traditional vs. minimally invasive surgery

Traditional hip replacement surgery uses a 10- to 12-inch incision to remove damaged bone and tissues and place the new implant. Traditional hip replacement surgery has great outcomes—but it may not be your only option.

Minimally invasive hip replacement surgeries use one 3- to 6-inch incision or two 1- to 3-inch incisions. That can mean a quicker recovery and a faster return to normal activities.

Each type of surgery leads to a similar hospital stay—and similar long-term outcomes. Your surgeon can help you decide which is right for you. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, factors to consider include your:

  • Age.
  • Weight.
  • Anatomy.
  • History of previous hip surgeries.
  • Overall health.

Implant types

Your hip is a ball-and-socket joint, so implants also consist of two parts, the ball and liner. Implants are made of combinations of metal, ceramic and plastic. Two common types of implant are:

  • Ceramic-on-plastic. The most popular implants use a ceramic ball with a plastic liner made of cross-linked polyethylene. The porous surfaces of these implants allow bone to grow onto them, which improves results.
  • Metal-on-metal. In these implants, both the ball and liner are made of cobalt chromium alloy. While they may last a long time, these implants can have complications like corrosion. This can cause reactions in some people.

Today's hip implants are high-tech and long-lasting. Your surgeon will discuss the risks and benefits of each option. Ask questions about their experience and outcomes with each type.

Moving ahead with hip replacement

Talk to your surgeon about the type of surgery that's best for you—and ask questions. Together, you can decide what will be best for your unique needs. And your surgeon can help you understand what to expect during and after your recovery. That can help you move forward with confidence.

Reviewed 8/22/2023

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