TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT
In Total Hip Replacement Surgery, the acetabulum (hip socket) and the head of the femur (ball) are replaced with an artificial joint. The prosthesis is made primarily of titanium combined with ceramic or a high-grade, very hard plastic, other metals and occasionally we use cement.
Arthritic damage is the most common reason to need a total hip replacement. By doing the surgery, we as hip replacement specialists aim to relieve your hip pain and increase your range of movement, thereby helping to improve mobility. Any of the following conditions may lead to the need for hip surgery:
- Osteoarthritis /
This type of arthritis occurs when the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones wears down or is damaged. This can be caused by an injury or may occur gradually over time.
- Rheumatoid arthritis /
This is an autoimmune disease (i.e. an overactive immune system) that causes inflammation which can erode cartilage and occasionally underlying bone, resulting in damaged and deformed hip joints.
- Osteonecrosis /
A severe dislocation or fracture may result in not enough blood being supplied to the ball portion of the hip joint. This may result in the bone in collapsing or becoming deformed.
Hip replacements and cataract surgery are number one of all surgeries when compared by risk versus reward. Patients can expect a marked improvement in pain and stiffness and are able to return to activities of daily living as well as sporting endeavours.
- Blood clots can form in the leg veins after surgery which do carry the risk of heart attack or stroke. Blood-thinning medication will be prescribed to reduce this risk.
- Infections can occur around the wound or in the deeper tissue near the new hip joint. Minor infections are treated with antibiotics, but a major infection near the prosthesis might require surgery to remove and replace the artificial hip joint.
- Fractures may occur during surgery when healthy portions of the hip joint might fracture. These fractures can be small enough to heal on their own, although larger fractures might need to be stabilised with wires, screws, and possibly a metal plate or bone grafts.
- Dislocation occurs when the ball of the new joint comes out of the socket, particularly in the first few months after surgery. However, modern surgical techniques and prosthesis design have virtually eliminated this risk.
- Changes in leg length are rare but occasionally a new hip makes one leg longer or shorter than the other. For a good clinical outcome it is important that the correct leg length is achieved. As leading hip replacement specialists, we have developed and published a system to ensure that the desired leg length correction is achieved in all cases.
- Loosening of the new hip replacement joint is rare but can occur when the prosthesis does not fix solidly to the bone or loosens over time. This is usually indicated by pain in the hip. Revision hip surgery might be required to resolve the problem.
- Nerves can be damaged in the area where the implant is placed, although this occurrence is also rare. Signs of nerve damage include numbness, weakness and pain in the hip.
Early designs of artificial hip joints had a limited life span, but modern designs have much better wear characteristics. It’s therefore the general consensus of hip replacement specialists that patients can expect to have many years of good quality of life even if it is performed at a young age.
When you visit our practice, located at Life Orthopaedic Hospital in Cape Town, our team of orthopaedic surgeons will provide detailed information of what to expect when undergoing a hip replacement. Click below to read more about getting prepared for your procedure.