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9th February 2019

Is an Andy Murray-style hip operation right for you?

Former world number one and Wimbledon champion, Sir Andy Murray, recently had a hip resurfacing operation. But would it be right for you? Mr Philip Stott, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at The Montefiore Hospital in Hove, explains the pros and cons.  

“Since Sir Andy Murray’s operation hit the headlines I have had numerous enquiries from patients asking if they should have a hip resurfacing as they have active lifestyles.

While the advantages of hip resurfacing mean a greater range of movement and less risk of dislocation of the hip during high impact sport, there are risks that could outweigh the benefits:

  • Firstly, more muscle is cut during the hip resurfacing procedure, compared with a minimally invasive hip replacement, which can mean a longer recovery time post-op.
  • Secondly, the metal used in hip resurfacing contains chromium and cobalt – potentially toxic metals which have been linked both to the growth of pre-cancerous cells particularly in in the urinary system, and also to muscle, bone and nerve damage around the hip. They have also been linked to a small increase in the rate of blood cancers, such as lymphomas.
  • Thirdly, the resurfacing procedure has a high failure rate in women which is likely to be because they have a smaller bone structure.

Whilst the majority of people who undergo hip resurfacing operations have no problems at all, we have seen a higher risk of complications or other medical problems than a normal hip replacement.

Ceramic hip resurfacing products are currently on trial which may replace the metal implants, reducing the risk factors. And we are already seeing how innovative minimally invasive stem cell procedures are decreasing the symptoms and progression of arthritis..  I hope that this will mean that one day hip replacements or resurfacing may no longer be necessary in many cases. 

Unless you are an elite athlete like Andy Murray who will be testing his hip to the extreme once he is back on the tennis court, there is no reason why in most cases, you cannot return to the sport you love following a high performance hip replacement. I have had patients who are skiers, hill walkers, wrestlers, climbers, club footballers, golfers and club tennis players now happily back enjoying the sport they love.

Every hip patient is an individual and the key is to have a full and frank discussion with your consultant about the options available to you. No one-size fits all.” 

Mr Phil Stott, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, holds clinics on Thursday afternoons at The Montefiore Hospital, Montefiore Road, Hove. Visit www.themontefiorehospital.co.uk or phone 01273 828 148.

What happens in a hip resurfacing procedure?

The hip is dislocated and the worn joint surface is ground off.  A metal cap is put on the head of the femur and a metal socket inserted into the pelvis.  Hip resurfacings traditionally have metal-on-metal bearings, while total hip replacements can have a variety of prosthetic options, such as ceramic, metal, or plastic. 

Signs you made need a hip replacement

For many people, osteoarthritis is the cause of hip problems. This develops in joints that are injured by repeated overuse from performing a task, playing a favorite sport or from carrying excess body weight. Symptoms include: 

  • Pain in the hip, and can cause pain in the groin, thigh, knee, even radiating to the shin.
  • Feeling stiff with difficulty climbing stairs, getting in and out of the car or bending to tie shoelaces.
  • Pain is often worse after activity, but a severely arthritic hip will be painful all the time, disturbing sleep patterns and leading to exhaustion, irritability and poor performance at work.

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