What is hip replacement?
Total Hip Replacement (THR) involves replacing a damaged hip joint with an artificial joint (prosthesis). Artificial joints can be made from different combinations of materials, including metal, ceramic, plastic and acrylic cement. The prosthesis includes an acetabular component, the femoral head and the femoral stem. There are many different types of hip replacements available. The type of hip replacement chosen takes into account individual patient factors.
How can hip replacement help?
For patients with hip arthritis, joint replacement is an effective and reliable method of providing pain relief. Hip replacements are very durable. 80-90% of patients have their artificial hip for longer than 15 years without problems.
What sort of anaesthetic is used?
Hip replacement may be performed using general anaesthetic (put to sleep), regional anaesthetic (epidural or spinal nerve blocks), or a combination of these techniques. Your anaesthetist will make recommendations about which technique best suits you.
What should I expect immediately after the hip replacement?
Most patients experience only mild discomfort when they wake up after a hip replacement. There will be a waterproof dressing applied over the wounds. It is normal for a small amount of blood to collect on this dressing. There will be catheter (small tube) inserted into the hip for the provision of pain relief. This is removed the next day once other analgesia (usually given by injection) is working effectively. Most patients will go home 2-7 days after the operation. It may be possible for further rehabilitation to be received in hospital. This can be discussed if required.
How long will it take to recover?
You are assisted and encouraged to place your whole body weight onto the hip and walk with assistance immediately after surgery. Hospital stay is usually 2-7 days. Crutches may be used for comfort for up to a few weeks after the procedure. Some people like to use a single crutch for a few weeks longer. Most people require 2-6 weeks off work, depending on your type of employment. Driving is not allowed for 4 weeks but you can be driven as a passenger.
What are the risks of hip replacement?
Hip replacement surgery is very safe. Serious complications are uncommon. These included serious wound infection (occurs in less than 1%) and dislocation of the hip (approximately 1%). As in other types of surgery, clots can form in the veins of the leg (deep venous thrombosis or ‘DVT’). On rare occasions these clots may dislodge and travel to the lungs causing breathing difficulty. Many patients with hip arthritis have a short leg on the effected side prior to surgery. This is corrected during the procedure but occasionally it is not possible to make the leg lengths equal (within 5mm), and the operated leg is made longer or shorter. These risks will be explained fully prior to surgery.