How are hip replacements made?

How are hip replacements made?

Many people throughout the UK undergo hip replacements. If you’re considering talking to a specialist about the possibility of hip replacement surgery, or already due for a hip replacement, then you may wish to know more about them. To help ensure that you have all of the information you need, we have put together a guide on hip replacements, from the reasons why people may need them to how they’re carried out, and what they’re made from.  

Reason for having a hip replacement

Hip replacements are required when the current hip joint is worn and causing significant pain, reducing quality of life. A worn hip joint is likely to reduce mobility and prevent the person from doing simple tasks. The pain can be constant and present itself even when in sedentary positions. One of the most common conditions that leads to hip replacement surgery is osteoarthritis although other conditions or accidents may also result in hip surgery.

This type of surgery is not offered as a first response to pain and discomfort. Other treatments will be offered first and, if they fail to work effectively, a hip replacement may be considered. Prior treatments may include steroid injections and physiotherapy. Most people who have hip replacement surgery are elderly. However, younger people may also require a hip replacement due to underlying health conditions or accidents and injuries.

How are hip replacements carried out?

Hip replacements are carried out after patients are given either a general anaesthetic or epidural anaesthesia. An epidural is where the lower half of the body is numbed but sedation is also usually carried out as well so the patient is unconscious during the procedure. The reason an epidural is sometimes used is because it often causes less potential for complications in people with underlying health concerns. Underlying health conditions are common in the demographic of people who have hip surgery because of their age.

The surgeon will make an incision and remove the current hip joint in its entirety. Part of your thigh bone is also removed. The surgeon will continue by fitting a socket into the hollow section of the pelvis. The thigh bone and the hollow of the pelvis is then re-joined with a shaft and ball at the end. The ball fits into the pelvis to create an artificial ball and socket joint. It is then sometimes fixed together using acrylic cement but not always. 

The recovery period may differ from person to person. Some people may even be able to walk the same day as their operation. In fact, some hospitals run hip replacement day surgery where patients are back on their feet and start walking just a couple of hours post-surgery. But, in most cases, you can expect to be in hospital between three and six days. During this time you may be given antibiotics to reduce the chances of infection and injections to prevent blood clotting.

What materials are used?

There are many different types of implants to choose from but a clinic will often only deal with a handful of them. The best type of prosthesis will depend on the individual. There is new evidence to suggest that metal-on-metal hip replacements can cause complications and those with them need to have regular check-ups. The chance of these complications arising is minimal. 

You can discuss the type of implant that will be best for you with your specialist and use this opportunity to voice any concerns that you may have. This is an important consideration because the material of your implant may affect how long it will last.

How long will a hip replacement last?

Although the NHS says that hip replacements typically last up to 15 years, there is new evidence to suggest that they actually last longer. Researchers at The University of Bristol found that 58% of hip replacements last up to 25 years. The difference in estimates between the NHS and researchers is because the NHS errs on the side of caution and states how long they are designed to last, rather than how long they actually last. The durability of the implant also depends on the material and its design.

Have hip replacement surgery at Benenden Hospital

If you have a question about hip replacement surgery, or would like to discuss any of our other treatments and procedures, we are ready to help. Our specialist team are experts in this sector and are on hand to answer any questions you may have, whether you’re only recently experiencing hip discomfort, or you’re awaiting surgery.  Do not hesitate to contact us and find out how a hip replacement could change your life for the better.

Published on 09 September 2019