Hip Replacement

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Hip replacement is a commonly performed surgical procedure for people with severe hip damage. It involves removing the damaged hip joint and replacing it with an artificial implant, made from metal, ceramic or hard plastic.

In total hip replacement surgery, both the femoral head and the natural socket are replaced with prosthetic implants.

What is hip replacement surgery?

The hip consists of a ball and socket joint with ligaments holding the bones in place. Cartilage supports the joint and prevents the bones from rubbing against each other and synovial fluid helps to lubricate the joint and ensure smooth movement.

When the hip becomes severely damaged it can result in pain, stiffness and loss of mobility. Hip replacement surgery is an effective procedure that can relieve pain, restore lost mobility and improve quality of life.

Who may benefit

Hip replacement surgery is normally only offered to people who have severe damage to the hip joint. This may be caused by:

  • Osteoarthritis – this is caused by the cartilage, which lines the hip joint, wearing away which can result in bone rubbing against bone, causing pain and stiffness. It is sometimes called wear and tear arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – this is an autoimmune condition that causes the body’s immune system, which normally protects against infection, to attack the joint lining.
  • Hip fracture – this may result in severe damage to the hip joint, particularly among older people.

Contact us

For evidence-based orthopaedic care you can trust, make contact for an initial consultation.

What to expect from hip replacement surgery

Hip replacement surgery is normally carried out under general anaesthetic (which means you will be asleep throughout) however it may also be performed using an epidural to numb the lower part of your body. The latter is normally offered to people with underlying health conditions to reduce the risk of complications.

During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the skin above your hip and removes the damaged hip joint. The upper part of the thigh bone is also removed. An artificial socket is fitted into the pelvis and a metal shaft with a smooth ball on the top is fixed into the thigh bone. Prosthetic parts may be cemented into place using acrylic cement. Alternatively, they may be made from a material that has a rough surface to encourage the bone to grow onto it and hold it in place.

Patient Outcomes

Hip replacement surgery is now a routine procedure with good success rates. You will be encouraged to get up and about as quickly as possible – often on the same day as surgery. You may be given an injection to prevent the formation of blood clots and a course of antibiotics to help prevent infection. A physiotherapist may recommend exercises to help build strength and improve flexibility in your hip. They will also show you how to bend and sit to prevent damage to your new hip while you are healing. 

You will normally be able to go home in three to five days. You will be given a follow-up appointment six to 12 weeks after surgery to check on your progress. You should be able to stop using crutches within four to six weeks and have made a good recovery within three months. Most people experience a new lease of life after a hip replacement as it takes away the pain of hip damage and restores lost mobility. 

Most implants last 15 years or longer, after which you may need hip revision surgery which is a more complex procedure than hip replacement with a greater chance of complications. Not everyone is suitable for hip revision surgery.

Risks of hip replacement

All surgical procedures carry a degree of risk. Among the risks associated with hip replacement are:

  • Blood clots which can form in the leg or lung and require urgent medical treatment. You will be given blood thinning medication and may be asked to wear compression stockings to reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • Infection in the tissue or implant, which may be treated with antibiotics or, in some cases, may require the implant to be removed.
  • Hip dislocation which is most likely to occur in the first few months before the joint is fully healed.
  • Loosening of the hip joint. Although this can occur at any time it is most common 10-15 years after surgery. It may cause pain and a feeling of instability in the joint.
  • Leg length discrepancy with one leg being shorter or longer than the other. Most cases do no need treatment though occasionally a shoe insert is required for the shorter leg.
  • Nerve injury where nerves near the hip joint can be stretched or injured during a hip replacement procedure.
For evidence-based orthopaedic care you can trust, make contact for an initial consultation.