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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Hemiarthroplasties in young patients with osteonecrosis or a tumour of the proximal femur; an observational cohort study

Pim W van Egmond, Antonie HM Taminiau and Huub JL van der Heide*

Author Affiliations

Department of orthopaedic surgery, Leiden University Medical Centre, Albinusdreef 2, 9600, 2333, ZA, Leiden, The Netherlands

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:31  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-31

Published: 17 January 2013



The failure scenario in total hip arthroplasty (THA), in younger patients, is dependent on the fixation and wear of the acetabular component. In selected cases, where endoprosthetic replacement of the femoral head is unavoidable for limb salvage or functional recovery, hemiarthroplasty can be chosen as an alternative. The purpose of this study is to evaluate hemiarthroplasty as treatment strategy for young patients with osteonecrosis or a tumour of the proximal femur.


Between 1985 and 2008, 42 hemiarthroplasties (unipolar and bipolar) were performed in patients younger than 65 years with osteonecrosis (n=13) or a tumour of the proximal femur (n=29). All patients were seen at yearly follow-up examination and evaluated. Revision or conversion to a THA was regarded as a failure of the implant. A Kaplan Meier analysis was performed. To determine significant differences between categorical groups, the Pearson chi-square test was used. In numerical groups the independent T-test and One-way ANOVA were used.


After a mean follow-up of 7.1 years, failure of the hemiarthroplasty occurred 6 times. The Kaplan Meier survival analysis with conversion to THA or revision as endpoint of the bipolar hemiarthroplasties (n=38) shows a 96% survival at 15, and 60% at 20 years. In the unipolar type (n=4) we found a conversion rate of 50% within 3 years.


Bipolar hemiarthroplasty is a reasonable alternative in a young patient with osteonecrosis or a tumour of the proximal femur as indication. Because of the high conversion rate after unipolar hemiarthroplasties, we would not recommend this type of prosthesis in the young patient.

Bipolar; Unipolar; Hemiarthroplasty; Tumour; Osteonecrosis; Young patients; Total hip arthroplasty