Q: What is a Hip Replacement?

A: A hip replacement involves a surgical procedure to replace part or all of a diseased or damaged hip joint with an artificial substitute—a prosthetic hip joint. The operation to replace or mend a joint is known as ‘arthroplasty’.

The aim of a hip replacement is to alleviate pain and restore function in the hip joint.

Q: When is a Hip Replacement necessary?

A: A hip replacement may become necessary to prevent pain and increase mobility if your hip joint is damaged as a result of disease or injury. The most common cause of hip replacements is osteoarthritis, but the procedure may also be necessary for people with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, bone tumours or a fractured femur (thigh bone).

Hip replacements may not be recommended for people who have a high likelihood of injury, such as people with Parkinson’s disease or a significant weakness of the muscles.

Q: What is the difference between standard Hip Replacement and resurfacing Hip Replacement?

A: The traditional treatment of a patient that required a hip replacement has been a stem-type replacement. The decision to perform a hip resurfacing is determined by diagnosis, the age of the patient, the patient’s level of activity and expectations. The resurfacing hip replacement offers a long-term outcome for young and active patients while saving bone for later revision when necessary. This conservative approach to hip replacement accounts for the popularity of the procedure.

Q: How is my new hip different?

A: You may feel some numbness in the skin around your incision. You also may feel some stiffness, particularly with excessive bending. These differences often diminish with time and most patients find these are minor compared to the pain and limited function they experienced prior to surgery. Your new hip may activate metal detectors required for security in airports and some buildings. Tell the security agent about your hip replacement if the alarm is activated.

Q: What is the length of expectancy of the resurfaced hip?

A: The average expectancy ranges from five to twenty years depending upon the activity level of the patient.

Q: What are the complications of hip replacement surgery?

A: Any surgery has risks. There are many risks associated with Hip replacement surgery. However, in the hands of a well-trained, dedicated orthopaedic surgeon, these risks should be quite low. The most common complication is blood clots in the legs. The most serious complication is infection. The most important long-term complication is loosening.

Q: What are newer materials in hip replacement these days?

A: The newer articulating surfaces are more durable, wear less and so more longevity can be expected with better range of motion. The newer articulating materials are metal on metal, ceramic on ceramic and metal with highly cross linked polyethylene.