updated 5/10/2006 7:48:14 PM ET 2006-05-10T23:48:14

A replacement hip that conserves more of a patient’s bone than do traditional artificial hips has received federal approval and should be available this summer, the manufacturer said Wednesday.

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The Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System uses a cap to replace only the head or ball atop the thigh bone, while adding a cup to replace the damaged surface of the hip socket, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The cap moves within the cup, their highly polished metal surfaces rubbing against one another, to mimic the natural movement of the hip.

Traditional hip replacements remove more of a patient’s bone. This new system allows younger and more active arthritis patients to have hip replacement surgery to relieve hip pain and improve hip function, while still leaving the option open for more traditional replacement surgery later in life, according to the FDA and Smith & Nephew Orthopedic Reconstruction, a Memphis, Tenn.-based division of the British manufacturer of the device.

The Birmingham Hip has been implanted in 60,000 patients in 26 countries, according to the company.

In 2003, the most recent year for which data were available, 325,000 people in the U.S. had either a partial or total hip replacement, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

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