Arthrodesis is the fusion of the femur (thighbone) to the pelvis. Hip fusion is used for young patients with healthy spine and no changes in other joints. It may be also attempted for patients with failed total hip joints.
Recovery requires partial weight bearing for a period of 12 weeks or more.
Hip Fusion normally results: in a pain-free fused hip in 70 % or more of all operated patients.
This operation is carried out only exceptionally nowadays. In this operation, the surgeon removes all hip joint surfaces up to the raw bone and then presses and fixes the denuded joint surfaces together with special plates and screws. Healing of the arthrodesis or the solidifying of the bone tissue and obliteration of the previous joint space takes about 12 weeks.
After this operation, the patients are completely free from pain in the hip joint but their hip joint is also completely stiff. Their operated extremity is very stable, so that patients with hip arthrodesis may do also a heavy work. After some time, however, many of them develop pain in their backs, knees, and the other hip.
The hip fusion is better tolerated by male than by female patients.
The results depend on the position in which the hip has been fused. Too much of a bent position in the thigh and the adducted thigh (thigh drawn to the midline) can result in pain in the spine.
Only about two thirds of all fusion hip operations heal with fused hip, in one third of the patients the fusion does not succeed according to the X-ray pictures. The patients, however, may still be pain-free and the hip completely stiff.
This operation may be also a last rescue for a failed total hip replacement where for some reason it would be impossible to implant a new total hip prosthesis. To achieve a fusion under these circumstances with severe deficit of the skeleton around the hip joint is extremely difficult.