My 80-year old mother broke her hip this morning. She's in the hospital waiting for surgery. When I looked on-line it seems there are two ways to treat this. One is with surgery to pin the fracture. The other is to replace the hip joint. How do we decide which is better?

Your mother's orthopedic surgeon will help you with this decision. It depends on the type of fracture and condition of the bone. Some areas of the bone have less blood supply and won't heal easily. Thin or osteoporotic bone may not heal either. A pin or plate to hold the bone until the fracture heals may not work.

An X-ray will show the doctor if the hip joint is stable. The key is to see if the head of the femur (thigh bone) is secure inside the hip socket. If it isn't, then the joint is considered unstable. There's a much greater chance for a poor result pinning an unstable joint. In such cases hip joint replacement is needed.