Over 50 years ago, hip replacement surgery was successfully introduced and since become a very common orthopaedic procedure. Throughout the last few decades, advances have been made in regards to surgical techniques and materials used which have steadily improved the outcome of hip replacement surgery.
Many associate the need for a hip replacement with arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the number one cause of hip pain and disability in patients who undergo a total hip replacement. Other indications for surgery , include rheumatoid arthritis, avascular necrosis (bone collapse from lack of blood flow), prior hip fracture or injury, and a history of childhood hip problems.
Hip pain that limits activity and stiffness are the common symptoms associated with arthritis of the hip.
In total hip replacement, the diseased bone and worn out cartilage is removed and is replaced with prosthetic components. The head of the femur (“ball”) is removed and a metal stem is placed down the center of the femur. A metal ball is then placed on the upper end of the metal stem. The pelvic socket is cleaned up and replaced with a metal socket. This can be held in place with screws or cement. A plastic liner is placed inside the new metal socket. This will allow the newly placed metal ball a smooth surface to glide on and will allow for a functional range of motion.
Newer techniques allow for smaller incisions and less muscle stripping which may lead to a faster recovery. Computer navigation can also assist in more accurate positioning of the components.
Hip replacement surgery is performed in a hospital setting. The surgery can take up to a few hours to perform. Patients typically spend up to a few days in the hospital following surgery.
As previously discussed, there are various reasons to have hip replacement surgery. Hip replacement surgery can be performed in teenagers and young adults when necessary, but tends to be a surgery associated with individuals over the age of 50 years old. Recovery from this type of surgery may take many months for some. There are many aspects of care that must be considered before undergoing this type of surgery.
Complications from this type of surgery are relatively low. Unfortunately, some of the potential complications can delay or prevent a full recovery from this type of surgery. A superficial or deep wound infection, fracture of the surrounding bone, dislocation of the prosthesis, blood clots and other major medical complications such as heart attack and stroke can occur. These complications may appear early after surgery or years later.