A Step by Step Overview of the Surgery for Total Hip Replace...

A Step by Step Overview of the Surgery for Total Hip Replacement

Fabio R. Orozco, M.D. November 3rd, 2014
Our bodies are truly amazing! While “bones, tendons, ligaments and joints” may sound just like a chapter title from a high school anatomy textbook, the reality is that these body parts are practical and essential aspects of each of our daily lives. They provide the ability for the many functions and movements we utilize on a daily basis. Consider the function of just one piece - the hip joint. Without this important player, the human body would be unable to properly bend at the waist, lift legs or get into a sitting position.
Like all joints of the body, the hip experiences wear and tear over time. However, the hip joint is somewhat unique in its susceptibility to early arthritis. Because it is a weight-bearing joint and is involved in so many of the movements we rely on to live an active life, it is often (along with the back) one of the first areas of the body to experience the level of cartilage breakdown that results in bone-on-bone interaction and intense pain.
For those suffering from this kind of pain due to hip arthritis, the solution is sometimes to have a surgery for total hip replacement. While your physician may first try other, more conservative approaches to managing your pain, if your arthritis continues to worsen, replacing the joint is often the best option.
A Step by Step Overview of the Surgery for Total Hip Replacement 
Over the years, orthopedic physicians, such as the team at Rothman Institute, have tweaked and perfected the art and science of hip replacement surgery. Today, it is considered a widely accepted solution for hip arthritis and injury and is one of the most successful orthopedic surgeries of its kind. 
If you are preparing to undergo this procedure, you may interested in a specific, step-by-step breakdown of what the surgery includes:
  • When you go in and are preparing for surgery on the day of your procedure, you may be given general anesthesia or, in some cases, regional anesthesia only. Ask your physician about what he or she plans to arrange for you on surgery day. 
  • After the incision is made, the surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage from the hip socket and will also take out the upper part of the femur bone, which will have a damaged surface due to the bone-on-bone contact.
  • Next, the surgical team will place the prosthetic component, which is made of metal or medical-grade plastic. This may be secured with or without the use of cement. Ask your surgeon if he or she plans to use cement.
  • Immediately following surgery and for about a day after, you will receive antibiotics via IV. You will also be prescribed anticoagulants (blood thinner to prevent clotting) for about 6 weeks post surgery.
  • Afterward, you may have pain from the procedure itself, most patients report having immediate relief of the intense arthritic pain they had been experiencing prior to the surgery.
  • With some assistance, most people are able to get out of bed on the day of surgery! The few days following the procedure will be spent learning how to safely navigate with a walker or a cane. Your surgeon will recommend exercises for you to do at home and can connect you with a qualified physical therapist to see you through the remainder of your recovery.
  • If you have your surgery for total hip replacement with Rothman physicians, we generally do not require hip precautions. Simply avoid uncomfortable motions or positions, but feel free to use normal beds, chairs, toilets, etc.
  • Your first post-op visit will be at the 2 weeks mark if you have sutures or staples, somewhere between 4-6 weeks for patients who receive staples. Ask your physicians which he or she plans to use.
  • Leg swelling and some numbness are normal for as long as 6 months following surgery. Don’t be alarmed, but do following the instructions of your physician and physician therapists during these important recovery months.
  • The final step, of course, is for you to fully recover and go on to continue living an active, healthy, pain-free life! 
Here at Rothman Institute, we perform over 4,000 surgeries for total hip replacement each year! Our hip specialists conduct their own research and regularly publish new findings on the topic of total hip replacement. It is here that some of the most advanced joint prosthesis parts and surgical methods have been designed through the advancement of joint replacement technology. It’s no wonder our team is asked to lecture all over the world on this important topic of surgery for total hip replacement!

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