The hip is one of the body’s largest weight-bearing joints. It consists of two main parts: a ball (femoral head) at the top of your thighbone (femur) that fits into a rounded socket (acetabulum) in your pelvis. Bands of tissue called ligaments (hip capsule) connect the ball to the socket and provide stability to the joint.The bone surfaces of the ball and socket have a smooth durable cover of articular cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones and enables them to move easily.
Normally, all of these parts of your hip work in harmony, allowing you to move easily and without pain.
The most common cause of chronic hip pain and disability is arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and traumatic arthritis are the most common forms of this disease.
Whether to have hip replacement surgery should be a cooperative decision made by you, your family, your primary care doctor, and your orthopaedic surgeon. The process of making this decision typically begins with a referral by your doctor to an orthopaedic surgeon for an initial evaluation.You may benefit from hip replacement surgery if:
You will most likely be admitted to the hospital on the day of your surgery. Prior to admission, a member of the anesthesia team will evaluate you. The most common types of anesthesia for hip replacement surgery are general anesthesia (which puts you to sleep throughout the procedure and uses a machine to help you breath) or spinal anesthesia (which allows you to breath on your own but anesthetizes your body from the waist down). The anesthesia team will discuss these choices with you and help you decide which type of anesthesia is best for you.
The surgical procedure takes a few hours. Your orthopaedic surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage and bone and then position new metal, plastic, or ceramic joint surfaces to restore the alignment and function of your hip.
Many different types of designs and materials are currently used in artificial hip joints. All of them consist of two basic components: the ball component (made of a highly polished strong metal or ceramic material) and the socket component (a durable cup made of highly specialized plastic – polyethylene or ceramic.)
Special surgical cement may be used to fill the gap between the prosthesis and remaining natural bone to secure the artificial joint.
A noncemented prosthesis has also been developed and is used most often in younger, more active patients with strong bone. The prosthesis may be coated with textured metal or a special bone-like substance, which allows bone to grow into the prosthesis.
A combination of a cemented ball and a noncemented socket may be used.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will choose the type of prosthesis that best meets your needs.
The complication rate following hip replacement surgery is low. Serious complications, such as joint infection, occur in fewer than 2% of patients. Major medical complications, such as heart attack or stroke, occur even less frequently. However, chronic illnesses may increase the potential for complications. Although uncommon, when these complications occur they can prolong or limit full recovery.
Blood clots in the leg veins or pelvis are the most common complication of hip replacement surgery. Your orthopaedic surgeon may prescribe one or more measures to prevent blood clots from forming in your leg veins or, if they do form, measures to prevent them from becoming symptomatic. These measures may include special support hose, inflatable leg coverings, ankle pump exercises, and blood thinners.
Leg-length inequality may occur or may become or seem worse after hip replacement. Your orthopaedic surgeon will take this into account, in addition to other issues, including the stability and biomechanics of the hip. Some patients may feel more comfortable with a shoe lift after surgery.
Other complications such as dislocation, nerve and blood vessel injury, bleeding, fracture, and stiffness can occur. In a small number of patients, some pain can continue or new pain can occur after surgery.