Leading hip surgeon Winston Kim says tennis star Andy Murray took a major risk by undergoing a hip resurfacing procedure.
The former world number one struggled for fitness over an 18-month period, before being diagnosed with the early onset of arthritis in his right hip.
An emotional Murray appeared ready to quit the sport ahead of the Australian Open, but he has battled back after surgery to win the doubles title alongside Feliciano Lopez at the Queen’s Club Championships.
Kim, a hip surgeon from Manchester Hip & Knee Clinic, believes Murray took a major gamble by going under the knife, although he admits it will have been a very carefully considered decision.
“He will have had an awareness of the intended benefits of resurfacing,” he told Betway Tennis. “If it fails, the next option would be a hip replacement.
“I’m sure he didn’t take the decision lightly – the vast majority of hip surgeons would be nervous about performing a hip resurfacing because of the potential risks, particularly in such a young, elite athlete.”
Hip resurfacing involves the implantation of a metal cap onto the ball of the hip joint and a metal socket into the ‘cup’ of the hip joint.
The risks of the procedure cause plenty of debate in medical circles, with research showing that high blood metal ion levels can result in osteolysis, the destruction of tissues around the joint.
“He wants to be able to play again, so he’s doing something relatively risky,” added Kim. “The average age for resurfacing is in the early 50s, so a 32-year-old elite athlete wanting to return to playing tennis at the highest level within four months is in unchartered territory.
“Research says that 90 percent of runners in their early 50s who undergo hip resurfacing are able to return to running. That’s just runners, and I’m not even giving you a timeframe, and it’s still just a 90 percent return.
“There’s a difference between being able to run and being able to play tennis at the highest level play with abandon.”
Despite Kim’s concerns, the three-time Grand Slam winner played impressively at Queen’s and he is eager to make an impression at Wimbledon when he partners Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the men’s doubles.
He has admitted it is a relief to be playing tennis again without any pain in his hip and Kim says it is pleasing to hear that Murray’s surgery gamble appears to have paid off.
“He was struggling to do even basic things,” Kim said. “Those things included sitting at the dinner table, playing with his kids, and putting on his socks.
“It sounds like it’s been a great success in terms of addressing the pain. It was obviously a quality-of-life decision.”