WFUBMC First in Triad to Offer Newly Approved Hip Replacement for Younger People

July 26, 2006

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is the first hospital in the Triad to offer a new type of hip surgery that is an alternative to standard total hip replacement. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May, the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System is designed to remove less of the patient’s bone than traditional hip replacement surgery.

William Ward, M.D., director of adult reconstruction, was trained in Birmingham, England, to perform the surgery. The procedure has been offered in Europe for several years.

“This is a breakthrough in total hip surgery that allows hip replacements to be performed in young and active patients and allows them to participate in sports activities without the limitations imposed on standard total joint patients,” said Ward, an orthopaedic surgeon.

Total hip replacement and the new resurfacing surgery are both designed to reduce hip pain and stiffness. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. In a healthy hip, the ball end of the thigh bone swivels smoothly in a socket of the pelvis. But, conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or injuries can cause the joint to become rough and worn, resulting in pain, swelling and stiffness when the bones rub together.

With traditional hip replacement surgery, the entire ball of the hip joint is removed and replaced with a smaller metal ball. The new procedure, known as resurfacing, preserves more of the patient’s bone because only the surface of the joint’s ball is removed to implant a new metal surface or cap.

The other part of the system is a shallow metal cup that replaces the damaged surface of the hip socket. The cap moves within the cup – just like the hip’s ball and socket joint. The surfaces that rub against each other are made from a highly-polished metal. The result is a more normally shaped joint. Research has shown that joints with two metal components wear better than traditional replacement joints made from metal and plastic.

Ward said bone conservation is a significant benefit of the system. Saving natural bone is important in young, active patients who want to resume sports activities and who may need additional surgeries later during their lives.

Candidates for the resurfacing surgery are people under age 55 with hip arthritis or very active people over age 55. To schedule an appointment or consultation, call 336-716-8093.


Media Contacts: Karen Richardson,; or Shannon Koontz,, at 336-716-4587.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,187 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

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Main Number:, 336-713-4587