Total hip arthroplasty, also called total hip replacement, begins with an incision to allow access ...
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Total hip arthroplasty, also called total hip replacement, begins with an incision to allow access to the bones of the hip joint. The next step is to remove damaged cartilage and bone from the acetabulum, the cup-shaped hollow in the hipbone. This damage results from the bones rubbing directly against each other when protective cartilage wears away. A tool called a reamer is used to prepare the hipbone to receive the socket portion of the hip replacement. This metal and plastic combination is called the acetabular component and is fitted into the newly-reamed surface of healthy bone and tissue. The outer, metal part of this component, sometimes called a cup, fits directly into the socket. The inner, plastic portion has a hollow to hold the replacement for the ball-shaped bone at the top of the thighbone, or femur. The outer, metal part is rough to help bone grow into its surface over time to lock the artificial socket in place. The next step is removing the ball-shaped head of the femur, or thighbone, and preparing the femur for placement of the stem portion of the component. A metal ball is attached to the end of the stem and fits into the artificial socket in the hipbone. Together, these components replace the natural ball and socket joint. During and after surgery, the surgeon verifies the correct fit and range of motion of the hip replacement components. By mimicking the anatomy and function of the natural hip joint, hip replacement can reduce pain and permit a return to many activities.