What is hip replacement surgery?

Hip replacement surgery, also called a total hip replacement or hip arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure that replaces a damaged hip joint. The surgeon uses an artificial implant made of metal, ceramic or plastic materials, called a prosthesis, to replace and recreate the hip joint. The orthopedic telemedicine hip specialists at BICMD can evaluate your hip condition and give you a second opinion if you are thinking of hip replacement surgery.

Why would I need a new hip?

Hip damage caused by hip osteoarthritis can cause debilitating pain limited range of motion. Damage to the bones in the hip joint, caused by hip osteoarthritis is not repairable and in older patients, requires hip replacement surgery. Hip arthroplasty or hip replacement surgery is recommended when conservative hip treatments have failed to improve mobility and alleviate pain. Hip replacement surgery is reserved for individuals with severe hip damage.

How is hip replacement surgery performed?

Hip replacement surgery should be performed by an orthopedic surgeon who has an excellent track record and repeated success in performing hip arthroplasty. The procedure is done with a standard technique using a slightly larger incision, or series of smaller incisions to perform the operation.

The procedure begins with the old, damaged femoral head being removed from the joint. It is replaced with a metal stem, inserted into a hollowed-out center of the femur. A ceramic or metal ball is then placed on the upper portion of the stem, replacing the removed femoral head.

Next, the damaged cartilage surface of the acetabulum (socket) is removed and replaced with a metal socket. The socket is held in place by screws or medical cement.

A synthetic spacer is then inserted between the new ball and the new socket. The spacer allows a smooth, gliding motion within the joint, mimicking the articular cartilage. This creates a pain-free surface that allows the new hip components to move together without pain.

What are the risks of hip replacement?

As with any joint replacement surgery, hip replacement has certain risks patients should understand before they commit to arthroplasty. Your surgeon can go over risk factors with you, and the likelihood (if any) of experiencing any of the following:

  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Dislocation
  • Fracture
  • Change in leg length
  • Loosening of the joint
  • Nerve damage

What is the recovery like following a hip replacement?

Many skilled hip replacement surgeons will tell you their surgery is only as good as their patient’s willingness to follow post-surgical protocols. It is important to understand the recovery process following hip arthroplasty is a team event which includes you, your doctor and the post-operative team. Patients undergoing a hip replacement can expect the following:

  • Pain medication will be prescribed and should be taken as directed
  • Hip replacement surgery usually requires an over-night stay in the hospital
  • Passive motion exercises will begin after surgery to help restore motion
  • A walker or crutches are needed until weight bearing can be tolerated
  • Patients are given a detailed list of precautions
  • Physical therapy is started right away and will continue until full strength and range of motion are restored.

Complete recovery following a hip replacement, on average, can take 6 to 12 months. Modern hip replacements last 20 or more years.

For more information on hip replacement or hip arthroplasty, or for a second opinion on recommended hip surgery for your hip osteoarthritis, please contact our experts, by clicking on “Connect With a Doctor” to reach one of our orthopedic telemedicine experts.