Total hip arthroplasty

Dr Craig Hacking et al.

Total hip arthroplasty (THA) or total hip replacement (THR) is an orthopaedic procedure which involves the surgical excision of the femoral head and cartilage of the acetabulum and replacement of the joint with articulating femoral and acetabular components. It is a commonly performed procedure usually with very good results and return to function.

  • osteoarthritis (most common indication)
  • trauma
    • THR can be considered in a case by case basis in neck of femur fracture (displaced intracapsular) in active and healthy patients
  • osteonecrosis / avascular necrosis
    • idiopathic or trauma related
  • dysplasia of hip
Surgical approaches

Most common surgical approach for total hip arthroplasty is a posterior approach to the hip. Skin incision is made 10-15cm centered on the posterior aspect of the greater trochanter. Dissection includes splitting fascia lata and gluteus maximus in line with its fibres. This will uncover the short external rotators, which are dissected off the femur and retracted back over the sciatic nerve to protect the nerve throughout the operation. A capsulotomy is then performed and the hip dislocated.

Prosthesis design

Bearing surfaces are the surfaces which articulate in the prosthetic joint. The femoral head and the acetabular liner can be used in different combinations. These will give different appearance on radiograph depending on the configuration. Options for bearing surfaces include:

  • metal on metal (metal head and a metal acetabular component)
  • metal on polyethylene (metal head with a polyethylene acetabular liner)
  • ceramic on ceramic (ceramic head with a ceramic acetabular liner)

Femoral component or stem- This refers to the prosthesis which is implanted into the femur. They can be described by length, taper and presence of collar. Attached to the femoral component is the neck and head which in most prostheses can be altered in size to create a stable joint.

Acetabular component: main variations in acetabular component on radiograph are related to fixation method and position.

Prosthesis position

Stability of the prosthetic joint is the primary goal in choosing the position of implanted prosthesis. Multiple patient and surgical factors can alter the ideal position of the components.

The overall position of the prosthetic hip replacement should ideally be in a mild degree of valgus, but should not exceed 140 degrees. Excessive valgus creates strain on the knee, can lengthen the leg and can lead to superior dislocation with adduction of the leg. A hip positioned in varus can cause increased loosening and stem failure and can also lead to dislocation.

The acetabular component should be positioned in 20 degrees of anteversion with an inclination of 45 degrees. Femoral component position should be in 10-15degrees of anteversion. Excessive anteversion or retroversion can lead to dislocation.

Prosthesis fixation

Femoral stem fixation can be either cemented or noncemented (biological) fixation. There is a tendency to use noncemented femoral stems in younger patients, due to higher reported rates of loosening of cemented stems in long term followup.  Most common fixation for the acetabular component is noncemented.

Biologic fixation uses either porous coated metallic surface to stimulate bone ingrowth or grit blasted surface to allow bone on growth. Prosthesis can also be coated in hydroxyapatite, which is an osteoconductive agent.

Grading of cement technique on radiograph for femoral stem

  • A: medullary canal completely filled with cement
  • B: a slight radiolucency exists at the bone cement interface
  • C: radiolucency > 50% of bone cement interface
  • D: radiolucency involving 100% of the interface between bone and cement in any projection, including absence of cement distal to the stem tip

Gruen zones are around the femoral stem from zone 1-7 from the proximal lateral aspect anticlockwise with zone 4 distal to the tip.

Charnley zones are around the acetabular component. There are 3 zones indicating the superior, middle and inferior third of the acetabulum.

Primary vs. revision 

When the prosthesis fails, a revision THA is performed which involves removing the primary components. This may involve osteotomy of the femur, which requires internal fixation. There are many options for revision prosthesis including longer femoral stem.

  • content pending

See also

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Article information

rID: 37780
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Total hip replacement
  • THA
  • THR
  • Revision total hip arthroplasty
  • Revision total hip replacement

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