Introduction to Hip Replacement
A hip replacement is a common surgical procedure in which the damaged hip joint is replaced by an artificial (prosthetic) implant.
What is a Hip Replacement?
A hip replacement is a common surgical procedure in which the damaged hip joint is replaced by an artificial (prosthetic) implant. The hip joint is known as a ball and socket joint which supports the body when a person is standing, walking or bending. Many of the hip replacements are done in older adults where the conditions are age-related. The damage on the hip joint can be due to cartilage inside a hip joint wears away causing rubbing (osteoarthritis), autoimmune response where the body defense mechanism incorrectly attacks the joint lining (rheumatoid arthritis) or an accident causing hip fracture.
Most hip implants last for 15 years or more.
How is a Hip Replacement performed?
Two types of anaesthetic are used, either general where you are asleep during the surgery or epidural where injection is given into your spine to numb the lower half of your body.
It can be performed traditionally or by minimally invasive technique. The main difference between the two techniques is the incision size. During traditional hip replacement, your surgeon will cut along the side of the hip and move the muscles connected to the top of the thighbone, called the femur. Once the hip joint is exposed, the thighbone is cut to remove the ball portion of the joint. The artificial joint is then attached to the thighbone, fitting the hollow socket.
How to prepare for a Hip Replacement?
You will be asked to sign a consent form prior to the surgery.
Your surgeon will assess you prior to the surgery and several tests – blood tests, urine tests, an X-ray or an electrocardiogram (ECG) – will be carried out. You may also be advised to exercise to help strengthen your muscle. This will aid in recovery after the surgery. You should also discuss with your surgeon regarding any medications that you are taking, as different types of drugs can affect the procedure.
It is important to realize that you may not be able to walk without a carer for several weeks, so you may consider making modifications to your home.
What happens after a Hip Replacement?
After the surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few days and drainage tube is used to pass urine. You will also undergo physiotherapy for weeks or months. Your physiotherapist will advise you on the dos and don’ts, and also how to take care of hips. Pain may surface initially and can be relieved by painkillers.
As with other surgeries, you should expect several complications such as hip dislocation, infection at the site of surgery, possible fractures, damage to the blood vessels or differences in leg length. A further surgery may also be required to repair or replace the artificial hip joint if it goes wrong or wears out.