The hip is one of the biggest working joints of the body. When something goes wrong with your hip, the problem can seriously impact your entire body and your ability to perform normal activities. Hip replacement is a surgical procedure in which the hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic implant. Hip replacement surgery can be performed as a total replacement or a hemi (half) replacement. Such joint replacement orthopedic surgery generally is conducted to relieve arthritis pain or fix severe physical joint damage as part of hip fracture.
Hip replacement is currently the most successful and reliable orthopedic operation with 97% of patients reporting improved outcome.
If after undergoing an orthopedic evaluation, you and your surgeon decide that hip replacement surgery is the best possible treatment for you there are several things you will need to do to prepare.
A few weeks before your procedure, you will need to have a complete physical by your primary care physician to rule out any other medical problems that may interfere with your surgery. At this time, your doctor also will take your medical history and order various tests that must be performed before surgery, such as blood tests, urinalysis, chest X-rays and electrocardiograms (EKG or ECG). Be sure to tell your orthopedic surgeon about all medications that you are taking. They will then advise you on which medications you should continue or stop taking prior to surgery. In addition, if you develop any kind of infection prior to surgery, such as a cold or the flu, notify your surgeon immediately. You should be in the best possible health before your surgery. If you are overweight, your doctor may suggest that you lose weight. If you smoke, it is highly recommended that you stop prior to your surgery because smoking can change blood flow patterns and delay healing and recovery. Seven days prior to surgery, you should stop taking all aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as NSAIDS like Aleve, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Advil and Naproxen. You may continue taking Cox-II inhibitors such as Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra. You may take Tylenol for pain and discomfort.
Total hip replacement surgery can result in blood loss that may require a blood transfusion. Therefore, it is suggested that you donate your own blood before surgery. If you are unable to donate blood for yourself, your family or friends may donate for you. They must have the same blood type and meet criteria for donation. Otherwise, banked blood is available. Banked blood, which is from volunteers, is screened for viral diseases and is matched to your blood type. If you are having surgery due to an infected prosthesis, you are not allowed to donate your own blood for surgery. In these cases, you must have family or friends donate blood or receive blood from a volunteer.
Significant dental conditions and problems should be treated prior to surgery. Although uncommon, an infection can occur as a result of these dental procedures if bacteria enter your bloodstream. If necessary, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist before your joint replacement surgery to treat any problems you may have.
The vast majority of total hip replacements are performed using a metal ball and a plastic socket made of an ultra-high weight polyethylene material. However, in certain circumstances depending on your age, bone quality and activity level, your surgeon may recommend an alternative bearing surface. These bearing surfaces, in some cases, could provide increased resistance to wear of your total hip replacement.
If you do decide to have hip replacement surgery, it is recommended that you organize your home with safety features to prevent accidents. These include:
- Making pathways in crowded areas
- Eliminating all throw rugs
- Securing extension cords and telephone cords strung across the floor
- Securing handrails in your bathtub and stairways
- Placing all needed items at a level so that you can easily reach them
You also should be sure that your house is equipped with a raised toilet seat, a stable shower bench or chair for bathing and a long-handled sponge or shower hose. You will also need firm pillows to sit on that keep your knees lower than your hips. Make sure someone can stay with you while you recuperate.