Hip resurfacing arthroplasty is a type of hip replacement that saves bone at the top of the femur (thigh bone). It is an option for patients who don't want or need a total hip replacement. Many younger adults are taking advantage of this option.
In theory, by removing less bone, if the resurfacing procedure fails, the patient can convert to the total hip replacement (THR). But there are very few studies to prove this can really be done safely and easily.
Surgeons at the Joint Replacement Institute in California say that's because it's a fairly new operation. They also comment that joint resurfacing is so successful that very few patients even need to convert.
In their limited experience, they report conversion is possible with good results. In fact, when they compared the results of a conversion group to a group of patients who had a THR first, the outcomes were the same. Both groups had the same pain levels, function, activity, and X-ray results.
Studies with a longer follow-up time will help answer some of these questions. For now, it looks like joint resurfacing is indeed a good option for many people. And it is possible to convert to a THR later if necessary.