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7th Congress of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Lisbon - 4-7 June, 2005


Hip Resurfacing has always been an attractive concept for the treatment of hip arthritis in younger patients. Introduction of modern metal-on-metal hip resurfacing in 1991 in Birmingham, UK made this concept a reality.

In the early years, resurfacings were used only by a few experienced surgeons. From 1997, Birmingham Hip Resurfacings (BHRs) are being widely used in younger and more active patients. A breakdown of the ages at operation in the regional NHS hospital in Birmingham during the period April 1999 to March 2004 show that the mean age of metal-metal resurfacings is 51 years and the mean age of total hip replacements is 70 years.

At a 3.7 to 10.8 year follow-up (mean follow-up 5.8 years), the cumulative survival rate of metal-metal resurfacing in young active patients with osteoarthritis is 99.8%. In the long term, none of these patients were constrained to change their occupational or leisure activities as a result of the procedure. The overall revision rate of BHRs in all ages and all diagnoses is also very low (19 out of 2167 [0.88%] with a maximum follow-up of 7.5 years).

Improvements in instrumentation and a minimally invasive approach developed by the senior author have made this successful device even more attractive. Although objective evidence does not support the fact that the longer approach was any more invasive than the minimal route, patient feedback shows that it is very popular with them. While minimal approach is indeed appealing, it has a steep learning curve. In the early phase of this curve, care should be taken to avoid the potential risk of suboptimal component placement which can adversely affect long-term outcome.

It is true that metal-metal bearings are associated with elevated metal ion levels. In vitro studies of BHRs show that they have a period of early run-in wear. This is not sustained in the longer term. These findings are found to hold true in vivo as well, in our studies of 24- hour cobalt output and whole blood metal ion levels. Epidemiological studies show that historic metal-metal bearings are not associated with carcinogenic effects in the long-term.

Metal ion levels in patients with BHRs are in the same range as the levels found in those with historic metal-metal total hip replacements.

Theses abstracts were prepared by Professor Roger Lemaire. Correspondence should be addressed to EFORT Central Office, Freihofstrasse 22, CH-8700 Küsnacht, Switzerland.