A total hip replacement is a surgery to replace a diseased or injured hip joint. An artificial ball-and-socket joint is inserted to make a new hip. It can be done by full open surgery or a minimally invasive technique.
The minimally invasive technique only requires one or two tiny incisions and special instruments. People eligible for this surgery are typically:
Left Total Hip Replacement
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This surgery is done when pain and stiffness limit your normal activities and rest, medicine, and physical therapy are no longer working.
Other reasons for surgery may include a broken hip, severe rheumatoid arthritis, bone tumors, and loss of blood supply to the bones of the hip.
If you are planning to have a hip replacement, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
Your doctor will do a physical exam and may also do:
In the time leading up to the procedure:
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV in your hand or arm.
An incision will be made along your joint. The muscles will be moved aside. The damaged bone and cartilage of the hip joint will be removed. The remaining bone will be prepared for the prosthesis. The new artificial joint will be placed in position. Depending on the type of prosthesis, the doctor may use bone cement to hold one or both parts of the artificial hip firmly to your bone. Lastly, the incision will be closed with stitches or staples.
This surgery may be done with one or two small incisions, one over the groin and another over the buttock. Special tools are used that fit into these small incisions. In some cases, x-rays will be used to help guide the doctor.
For the one-incision surgery, an incision will be made over the outside of your hip. The muscles and tendons will be moved out of the way. Next, the damaged bone and cartilage of the hip joint will be removed. The remaining bone will be prepared for the prosthesis. The new artificial joint will then be placed in position. Depending on the type of prosthesis, bone cement may be used to hold the artificial hip in place. Lastly, the incision will be closed with staples or stitches.
You will have pain after the surgery. Pain medicine will be given to help with discomfort.
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is:
Your doctor may choose to keep you longer, if complications occur. In some cases, you may need to stay in a rehabilitation unit. The focus will be on regaining function.
While you are recovering at the hospital, you may need to:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Antibiotics may be needed before certain dental procedures or surgeries now that you have an artificial joint. This will prevent possible infections from entering the bloodstream. Make sure to let the dentist or doctor know that you have an artificial joint.
Within six weeks, you should be able to resume normal, light activities. A replacement hip typically lasts 10-15 years.
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
The Arthritis Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
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Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 3/1/2013