What's the difference between a total hip arthroplasty and a hemiarthroplasty?

Arthroplasty is the term used by doctors to describe surgery on a joint to replace it. If both sides of the joint are replaced, it’s called a total joint arthroplasty. When only part of the joint is removed and replaced, it’s called a hemiarthroplasty.

Hips, knees, and shoulders are the main joints that allow for a hemiarthroplasty. Most joint replacements are total. The decision is made based on the condition of the bone, joint, and cartilage.

The doctor uses X-rays and CT scans before the operation to help with this decision. A final decision is made when the joint is opened or viewed from the inside with an arthroscope.

Reference: 

Markus Flören, MD, and D. Kevin Lester, MD. Outcomes of Total Hip Arthroplasty and Contralateral Bipolar Hemiarthroplasty. A Case Series. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. March 2003. Vol. 85-A. No. 3. Pp. 523-526.

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