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by Michael Jubinville, MPH
Joint resurfacing is a procedure that removes damaged joint tissue and uses a metal cap to create a new, smooth joint surface.
Resurfacing may be done on the hip, shoulder, or knee joints which are more prone to degenerative arthritis or wear and damage.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
Joint resurfacing may be done as part of treatment after an injury or for joints with arthritis or that have worn down over time. In either situation, damaged tissue in the joint is causing pain and making it difficult for normal function.
Joint resurfacing may be considered:
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Before surgery, you will meet with your doctor for a physical exam, medical history, and tests. You may have blood tests.
Imaging studies that may be done to evaluate the joint and surrounding tissue include:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to two weeks before the procedure.
You may be given either:
Description of the Procedure TOP
An incision will be made along the joint. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments will be carefully moved aside. The joint may be moved from its normal position so that the surgeon will have access to the damaged area.
Damaged sections of tissue that lies over the bones, called cartilage, may be removed and smoothed down. Any excess build-up of bone will also be removed. A metal cap will be placed over the newly cleaned surface. If needed, a metal cup or plastic surface will be placed on the opposite joint surface as well. This is usually done with the hip or knee, but not the shoulder. When the repairs are done the joint will be returned to its normal place. Muscles and tendons will be moved back into place and the incision will be closed. A bandage may be placed over the incision.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
The hospital stay is usually about 1-4 days. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Hospital
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Recovery may also include:
Physical therapy will be started soon after surgery to get the joint moving. This therapy will help to regain the range of motion and strength of the joint. The therapist will also help you understand how to use assistive devices you may need as you heal.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
You may need assistive devices once you are home. The devices will help support your joint until healing can be completed. The length of time you will have the assistive devices will depend on what joint is affected, how much work is done, and your overall health.
You may need assistance with some daily tasks. It may take about 6 weeks before returning to normal activity. The doctor and therapist will give guidance on returning to work.
Call Your Doctor TOP
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
Call for emergency medical services right away for:
Pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that is lodged in the lungs, which may cause:
Deep vein thrombosis, an obstructive blood clot (mainly in the leg), which may cause:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American College of Surgeons
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Association of General Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Elective total hip arthroplasty. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated July 17, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2017.
Hip resurfacing. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated March 2014. Accessed November 10, 2017.
Shoulder joint replacement. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 2011. Accessed November 10, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
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