In a total hip replacement both the ball (femoral or thigh bone) side of the hip joint and the socket (acetabular or pelvic side) are replaced with an artificial joint.
Would I benefit from hip surgery?
Total hip replacements are usually performed on people with severe arthritis, although there are other reasons why it’s felt someone would benefit from surgery. Surgery aims to stop most, if not all, of the pain in your hip.
What happens during surgery?
The surgeon will make an incision in your hip using a scalpel. The top part of the thigh bone (femur) and the ball will be cut away. A replacement stem and ball can then be placed in the top of the thigh bone. The socket part of the hip joint will also be prepared. The surgeon will remove any excess arthritic bone and make a smooth base for the new ‘cup’.
How long will the surgery take?
Surgery usually takes around 60-90 minutes.
Risks of surgery
As with all operations, there are risks with having surgery which include:
- Blood clots: These can form in the veins after surgery and are known as Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. You may be advised to wear compression hosiery to reduce this risk.
- Bleeding: This is usually minor and is stopped during the operation.
- Pain: Your hip will be sore after the operation, but you will be provided with painkillers. Pain normally improves with time and for most people the hip will become pain free.
- Implant wear and loosening: With modern operating techniques and implants, we expect your new hip to last more than 15 years, but in some cases the implants may experience wear or loosening.
- Joint dislocation: The two sides of a hip replacement are held together by the muscles and ligaments around the hip. They can dislocate, particularly in the first few weeks after surgery. If this occurs, the joint can usually be put back into place without another operation but you may be asked to wear a brace for a few weeks.
- Infection: To minimise the risk of infection you will be given antibiotics before surgery. Ultra clean air theatres will be used and special precautions are taken by the theatre staff by gowning and draping. Some infections can, however, still occur.
- Nerve damage: In rare cases the nerves around the hip joint may be damaged during the surgery. The nerves could be injured, cut or stretched.
The risk of serious complications is, however, low, and estimated to be fewer than one in 100 people.
Your surgeon will be able to answer any questions you have and will discuss all of these risks with you before your surgery to make sure you fully understand them.
Benefits of surgery
The majority of people who have surgery are relieved of their pain and disability from hip arthritis and achieve greater independence.
How long will I be in hospital?
Most people will be ready to leave hospital within four to eight days after their operation.
- A physiotherapist will visit you in hospital to help get you moving and to advise you on appropriate exercises to do to help you recover.
- Before you leave hospital, an occupational therapist will assess your physical ability and your circumstances at home. They will be able to advise and provide support for you, if needed, once you get home, or help arrange any adaptions to your home or equipment you may need.
- You need to take care during the first eight to 12 weeks after your operation to avoid dislocating the hip, but it is important to continue with the exercises recommended by your physiotherapist for as long as they advise.
- You will probably need walking sticks for the first four to six weeks, but this varies between individuals.
- You can expect to drive again after about six weeks. You will be told when it is safe for you to drive.