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Hip resurfacing 'prone to failure'

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New research has claimed that hip resurfacing is often unsuccessful and should not be performed on female patients.

A study, which was carried out for the National Joint Registry for England and Wales, looked at more than 400,000 cases of hip surgery over a period of more than eight years from April 2003 to September 2011.

Out of all the procedures included in the research, 7.3%t were resurfacings. The operation is often offered to younger people instead of a hip replacement and involves taking out the superficial bone and putting in a metal cap.

Researchers examined how long the resurfacing implants continued to be effective by finding out how many had failed within seven years of being fitted. The study also examined the effect of the implant’s head size on the success of the procedure.

The data collected during the study concluded that using smaller head sizes seemed to increase the likelihood of the implant failing. And the metal bearing surfaces used in resurfacing were less successful than procedures using alternatives like ceramic and plastic.

However the study did find the operation was more effective on male patients with a large femoral head of 54mm. In these cases the level of success was similar to that experienced by people whose hip had been totally replaced.

Professor of orthopaedic surgery Ashley Blom, who works at the University of Bristol’s School of Clinical Sciences, said the study had shown resurfacing using smaller implant heads were the least successful and that the procedure was less effective for women than men.

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