"We're replacing both the socket and the femur. That's why it's a total hip replacement." Doctor Thomas P. Sculco, Surgeon-in-Chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, explains how total hip replacement involves replacing both sides of the hip joint.
Dr. Sculco: Total hip replacement... it can be confusing, that terminology. The reason it's called total hip replacement is that both sides of the joint are replaced. So as opposed to just putting a new ball in, with total hip replacement (because arthritis destroys both the socket and the femur), we're replacing both the socket and the femur. That's why it's a total hip replacement. It's not one side or the other it's both sides of the joint. On occasion we will replace both hips. So we'll replace the first hip, and then under the same anesthetic we'll replace the second hip at the same time. That can be done.
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