Resurfacing hip arthroplasty better preserves a normal gait pattern at increasing walking speeds compared to total hip arthroplasty

Background and purpose — Gait analysis performed under increased physical demand may detect differences in gait between total (THA) versus resurfacing hip arthroplasty (RHA), which are not measured at normal walking speed. We hypothesized that patients after RHA would reach higher walking speeds and inclines compared with THA. Additionally, an RHA would enable a more natural gait when comparing the operated with the healthy contralateral hip.

Patients and methods — From a randomized controlled trial comparing THA with RHA with at least 5 years’ follow-up patients with a UCLA score of more than 3 points (n = 34) were included for an instrumented treadmill gait analysis. 25 patients with a unilateral implant (primary analysis—16 THA versus 9 RHA) and 9 patients with a bilateral implant (sub-analysis—n = 5 RHA + THA; n = 4 THA + THA). Spatiotemporal parameters, ground reaction forces, and range of motion were recorded at increasing walking speeds and inclines. Functional outcome scores were obtained.

Results — At a normal walking speed of 1.1 m/s and at increasing inclines no differences were recorded in gait between the 2 groups with a unilateral hip implant. With increasing walking speed the RHA group reached a higher top walking speed (TWS) (adjusted difference 0.07 m/s, 95% CI –0.11 to 0.25) compared with THA. Additionally, RHA patients tolerated more weight on the operated side at TWS (155 N, CI 49–261) and as such weight-bearing approached the unaffected contralateral side. For the RHA group a “between leg difference” of 8 N (CI 3–245) was measured versus –129 N (CI –138 to –29) for THA (adjusted difference 144 N, CI 20–261). Hip flexion of the operated side at TWS was higher after RHA compared with THA (adjusted difference 8°, CI 1.7–14).

Interpretation — In this study RHA patients reached a higher walking speed, and preserved a more normal weight acceptance and a greater range of hip flexion against their contralateral healthy leg as compared with patients with a THA.