Total Hip Replacement

Hip replacement at a glance

  • Total hip replacement is a surgical procedure that replaces a damaged hip joint with a prosthetic implant, commonly made of plastic, metal or ceramic materials. Hip replacements are typically performed when there is significant hip joint damage from injury or arthritis.
  • Symptoms that may indicate the need for a total hip replacement include persistent pain and difficulty with everyday movement.

When total hip replacement is needed

Hip replacements are typically performed when there is significant hip joint damage from injury or arthritis. Symptoms that may indicate the need for a total hip replacement include pain that persists even with pain medication and difficulty with movements such as walking, getting up out of a chair, or using stairs. Talk to your pharmacist before purchasing anti-inflammatories as these medications may be contraindicated as they may interact with other medications and medical conditions.

Pain that interrupts sleep or everyday activities is also a factor when considering total hip replacement surgery.

Total hip replacement surgery

To perform a total hip replacement, the surgeon removes diseased or damaged bone and cartilage in the hip, and replaces the damaged socket (acetabulum) with the prosthetic socket. The surgeon will fit a prosthetic ball on the top of the femur (thighbone) and join the ball and socket together.

There are two methods of attaching the artificial joint to the existing bones: cemented and uncemented. In a cemented procedure, the artificial joint components are glued to the healthy bones of the pelvis and femur using special cement.

An uncemented procedure uses artificial joint components made of porous material. Over time, the patient’s bone grows into the pores of the components, holding the new part in place.

In some cases, a “hybrid” replacement may be used, in which the socket is uncemented and the ball is cemented.

There are also various approaches to performing a hip replacement surgery, including the minimally invasive anterior approach that is primarily used by the orthopedic surgeons at Muir Orthopaedic Specialists.

Risks associated with hip replacement surgery

To reduce the risk of infection, it may be necessary to take antibiotics before and after the surgery. Healthcare providers recommend completing any major dental work before the surgery because infection can easily spread from the mouth to other parts of the body, including the surgical site.

The risks of having a total hip replacement surgery include:

  • Infection in the joint or the surgical site
  • Nerve injury around the surgical site
  • Blood clots
  • Issues with the wound healing
  • Bone deposits in the soft tissue around the joint (heterotopic ossification)
  • Dislocation of the replacement hip
  • Difference in leg length

Long-term risks include the gradual loosening of the artificial joint over time, caused by tissue growing in between the artificial components and the bone. If the loosening causes severe pain, it may be necessary to have another joint replacement surgery.

In general, there is a higher risk of infection around artificial material in the body (like the replacement joint components). In the years following a hip replacement, it may still be necessary to take antibiotics both before and after any other surgical procedures or dental work to reduce the likelihood of infection spreading to the artificial joint.

If you are experiencing hip pain, contact us to request an appointment with our hip specialists to learn if a total hip replacement surgery is an option for you.