Hip replacement surgery is an operation to replace an arthritic, damaged hip joint. When there is significant cartilage loss in the hip joint causing pain, stiffness and mobility issues, a full replacement of the joint may be required. By the time hip replacement is necessary patients are often waking in pain at night and unable to put their shoes and socks on. Getting out of the bath or low chairs and car seats can be a struggle.
Understandably, you may have a lot of questions when you are told you need surgery. Here, we reveal the answers to some of the most common questions patients have about the procedure.
Before hip replacement surgery
Prior to undergoing hip replacement surgery there are things you should do to help limit the risks, and ensure the procedure runs smoothly. While the risks of hip surgery are minimal, it helps to ensure you are as fit and healthy as possible before the surgery.
Partaking in gentle exercise such as walking or swimming, will help to strengthen the hip muscles and aid in your recovery. If you smoke, you should also aim to quit a few weeks before the surgery. Nicotine has been proven to complicate healing, and it significantly increases the risks involved.
You will be given antibiotics to take before the surgery, and once again afterwards to reduce the chance of infection.
It is important that the skin around the hip and leg is in good condition at the time of surgery.
Other medical conditions, such as diabetes, should also be under control and there will be a pre assessment process to check general fitness for surgery. This will include routine blood tests.
Mr Punwar will advise you on the best ways to prepare for the surgery and his expert team are always on hand to answer any questions you may have.
During the procedure
Hip replacement surgery takes between 1 to 2 hours to complete. A consultant anaesthetist will see you prior to surgery and discuss the options available.
You will generally be given a spinal anaesthetic, ensuring you don’t feel anything during and shortly after the procedure.
A 10-15 cm curved incision will be made at the side of the hip, before Mr Punwar dislocates and removes the femoral head. An uncemented metal socket will be attached to the pelvis, before a metal stem with a ceramic or metal head is implanted in the femur. The femoral stem may be cemented or uncemented depending on bone quality and shape. Mr Punwar will plan the surgery beforehand and make sure you are aware of the intended procedure.
Any blood loss will be minimised and the procedure will be carried out in an ultra-clean air operating theatre to minimise infection.
The wound will then be closed up with clips or sutures and protected with a surgical dressing to minimise the risk of infection.
Recovery from hip replacement surgery
The few days after undergoing hip surgery, Mr Punwar and the physiotherapy team will keep a close eye on you to ensure you are regaining mobility. A postoperative x-ray will be taken, and you may experience some bruising and swelling around the site of the operation. There may be some lower leg swelling. You will be given compression stockings to reduce swelling and guard against deep vein thrombosis. You will also be given daily injections of a low dose blood thinner to prevent thrombosis for 4 weeks. This is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Pain relief will be prescribed as necessary to help your recovery. At 2 weeks a wound check will be performed to make sure the skin incision has healed well.
For a period of six weeks, you may need to take precautions to protect the hip such as sleeping on your back, sitting in very low chairs and avoiding crossing your legs. You will be provided with specific aftercare instructions you should follow, after the procedure by Mr Punwar and the physiotherapy team.
Ideally, you should avoid driving for 4-6 weeks after the surgery. In most cases, patients recover and can resume daily activities within six weeks. A review will be arranged 6 weeks after surgery. This ensures you are recovering as expected. Further follow-up will be arranged as required.