Once the patient’s vital signs are checked, general or epidural anaesthesia as per plan is administered. The surgeon makes an incision 10 to 12-inch-long, at the side or back to expose the hip joint. The hip joint is then dislocated by removing the head of femur from its socket in the pelvis, the acetabulum. The arthritic femoral head is then cut off with a bone saw.
The acetabulum is then prepared to receive the acetabular cup prosthesis. The acetabular cup, containing a ceramic or plastic liner to facilitate the smooth movement of the joint, is then placed into the prepared socket. A prosthetic femoral stem is attached to the top of the femoral bone that is cut off. A prosthetic ball that acts as the head of the femur is then attached to the prosthetic femoral stem. The surgeon then checks for the ease in various types of movements. Once satisfied, the length of both the legs is checked for any disparity which is the last step. The surgical incision wounds are then sutured or stapled. The patient will remain in the hospital for a period of 10-14 days depending on the improvement in hip function. The total recovery period is in the range of 2-3 months.
Complications of surgery
Other than the usual complications associated with any surgery like bleeding, pain, swelling, injury to adjacent nerves or blood vessels, some of the complications specific to a hip replacement surgery are:
• Infection in the surgical wounds or joints
• Development of blood clots in the deep veins called deep vein thrombosis of the legs. Pulmonary embolism is a major complication of deep vein thrombosis.
• Unequal length of the legs, one leg may feel longer or shorter than the other.
Things to remember
• The replaced hip will not last forever, they usually have a life span of 10-12 years
• For some patients, they may require revision surgery
• Physical therapy is a must for recovery from the surgery
• There may be a necessity to change certain things around the house for ease of movement
• There will be a necessity to walk with a cane or a walker during the initial healing period
• If patients live alone, then arrangements should be made to have someone come over and live with them during the recovery period, since they will need help with most household chores and walking/driving