Hip replacement surgery, also called total hip arthroplasty, involves removing a diseased hip joint and replacing it with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis. Hip prostheses consist of a ball component, made of metal or ceramic, and a socket, which has an insert or liner made of plastic, ceramic or metal. The implants used in hip replacement are biocompatible — meaning they're designed to be accepted by your body — and they're made to resist corrosion, degradation and wear.
Hip replacement is typically used for people with hip joint damage from arthritis or an injury. Followed by rehabilitation, hip replacement can relieve pain and restore range of motion and function of your hip joint.
Why it's done
The goal of hip replacement surgery is to relieve pain and increase the mobility and function of a damaged hip joint. If a stiff, painful hip joint has forced you to cut back on everyday activities, successful surgery may allow you to resume them.
Before thinking about surgery, though, your doctor may recommend other treatments, such as pain medications, physical therapy, exercise, and use of a cane or walker. If these treatments are not enough, hip replacement may be the right option for you.
Conditions that can damage the hip joint, sometimes necessitating hip replacement surgery, include:
Symptoms that might lead you to consider hip replacement include:
Hip replacement surgery is generally safe, but as with any surgery, complications can occur. Although some complications are serious, most can be treated successfully. Complications of hip replacement include:
How you prepare
Before surgery you'll meet with your orthopedic surgeon for an examination. The surgeon will:
This preoperative evaluation is a good opportunity for you to ask questions about the procedure. If you have any concerns about the surgery, be sure to ask.
Your doctor or surgeon may also recommend that you begin an exercise program in preparation for your surgery. Some doctors believe that people who have an established muscle-building and flexibility program before surgery have better outcomes and faster recovery time following surgery. Preoperative exercise programs may have less effect in those with advanced osteoarthritis, however. Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
What you can expect
When you check in for your surgery, you'll be asked to remove your clothes and put on a hospital gown. The first member of the medical team to visit may be the anesthesiologist. You'll be given either a general anesthetic or a spinal block, which numbs the lower half of your body.
Because infection and blood clots are possible complications of hip replacement surgery, your surgeon may order preventive medications — antibiotics and blood thinners — to be given before the surgery begins.
During the procedure
Your new, artificial joint is designed to mimic the natural, gliding motion of a healthy hip joint.
Techniques for hip replacement are evolving. As surgeons continue to develop less invasive surgical techniques, the hope is that these techniques might reduce recovery time and pain compared with standard hip replacements. However, studies comparing the outcomes of standard hip replacement with those of minimally invasive hip replacement have had mixed results.
After the procedure
Blood clot prevention
Activity and exercise must be a regular part of your day to regain the use of your joint and muscles. Your physical therapist will recommend strengthening and mobility exercises and will help you learn how to use a walking aid, such as a walker, a cane or crutches. As therapy progresses, you'll gradually increase the weight you put on your leg until you're able to walk without assistance.
Home recovery and follow-up care
About six to eight weeks after surgery, you'll have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon to make sure your hip is healing properly. If recovery is progressing well, most people resume their normal activities by this time — even if in a limited fashion.
Hip prostheses are designed to mimic the ball-and-socket action of your hip joint. During hip replacement surgery, your surgeon removes the diseased or damaged parts of your hip joint and ...
Two types of hip implants
Cemented implants are held in place with bone cement. Uncemented implants have textured surfaces that allow new bone to grow into the implant, securing it in place....
Hip replacement surgery is successful more than 90 percent of the time.
Expect your new hip joint to reduce the pain you felt before your surgery and increase the range of motion in your joint. But don't expect to do anything you couldn't do before surgery. High-impact activities — such as running or playing basketball — may never get your doctor's approval. But in time, you may be able to swim, play golf, walk or ride a bike comfortably.
Last Updated: 2011-04-19
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