Total Hip Replacement
Hip Replacement Surgery If arthritis damages your hip joint, you suffer a serious fracture to it or you have hip dysplasia (where your hips are not correctly formed), you may need a hip replacement. This is usually necessary if you have not responded to other treatments and your range of motion is significantly restricted, making everyday tasks extremely difficult. Where this is the case, your damaged or diseased hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic hip joint. This procedure, which is available from Mr John Hollingdale in London, provides pain relief, improved hip function, greater mobility and enhances your quality of life. However, although hip replacements have been performed since the 1950s, with improved technology and materials the operation is now one of the most successful procedures performed in orthopaedics, with artificial hip joints typically lasting between 15 and 20 years, as long as you take good care of your new joints.
Total Hip Replacement Surgery Hip replacement surgery is performed under either general or spinal anaesthetic. During the procedure, Mr Hollingdale makes a cut into your hip and removes the whole of your damaged joint. He then replaces the head of your femur with a metal prosthesis, which has a ball attached to its end. This ball is available in varying sizes and is either made from an alloy, such as Cobalt Chrome, or ceramic. The prosthetic joint is either fixed in place using specialist cement or a cementless technique is available for parts which are permeable, as this enables the bone to fuse with it naturally. An appropriately sized liner is then fitted into your pelvis to replace the socket of your hip joint, which is either made from polythene or ceramic. One of the advantages of ceramic hip replacement surgery is that ceramic wears more slowly in comparison to plastic. As a wide range of artificial hip joints are available, Mr Hollingdale will choose the most suitable for your age, activity levels and lifestyle, and will discuss this with you when you meet in London before your hip replacement operation.
Recovery after Total Hip Replacement After the procedure you will be given painkillers to keep you comfortable and although you will feel some discomfort when walking, the nursing staff will help you to walk as soon as possible following surgery. You will initially use crutches to mobilise, but you will soon progress on to walking sticks, as the physiotherapy you receive after your operation will aid your mobility; the physiotherapist will also explain how to sit and move correctly so that you do not damage your new hip joint. While receiving physiotherapy, this may involve hydrotherapy, as being in the water aids your movement and provides pain relief, which many patients find useful during their rehabilitation.
Complications Associated with Hip Replacement Surgery Serious complications associated with joint replacement surgery are rare, occurring in under 1% of patients, and even though precautions are taken by Mr Hollingdale and his team in London to minimise the chance of complications, it is essential that you understand these risks. For example, even though your surgical wound is dressed and you may receive a course of antibiotics, there is a very small risk that you may develop an infection around your new hip joint, so look out for signs of a fever, redness or discharge from the wound, or hip pain at rest. Similarly, compression stockings, blood thinning drugs and mobilising soon after surgery reduce the risk of blood clot formation, though you should stay vigilant for painful or swollen calves, breathlessness or chest pain in the weeks following your operation.
Before deciding to undergo hip replacement surgery, it is also important to be aware that sometimes problems with an artificial hip joint can occur. For instance, hip dislocation, where the joint is displaced from its socket, may occur. However, now that larger heads are used in artificial joints, hip dislocation is less likely. Towards the end of a replacement hip's lifespan, the joint may loosen, which you will usually feel as pain or instability. The good news is though that a revision procedure allows loose hip joints to be successfully treated to restore good function in your artificial hip joint.
Although hip replacement surgery is a routine and safe operation, if you have any concerns about the complications or success rate, Mr Hollingdale will be happy to discuss these at your assessment before surgery.