BRISTOL, England, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Researchers in Britain say hip resurfacing -- an alternative to hip replacement -- is prone to early failure and should not be used in women.
Ashley Blom of the University of Bristol examined data from 434,650 hip operations done from April 2003 to September 2011, of which 7.3 percent were resurfacings.
Hip resurfacing is similar to total hip replacement, except the femoral head -- the rounded top section of the thigh bone, or the ball of the ball-and-socket-joint -- is not completely removed, Blom said.
Instead, the superficial bone is removed and replaced with a metal cap. Hip resurfacings always are metal-on-metal bearings, but total hip replacements can have several options including ceramic, metal, or plastic.
The study, published Online First in The Lancet, found the use of smaller head sizes was linked to higher failure rates and in most cases, resurfacing implants failed more quickly than the other surfaces options. In women failure rates were up to five times higher than other surfaces, the study said.
The only exception to this was for men with a large femoral head.They had comparable rates of implant success to those who had undergone total hip replacement.
"Resurfacing failure rates in women were unacceptably high," Blom said in a statement. "In view of these findings, we recommend that resurfacing procedures are not undertaken in women."