The hip replacement process

The hip replacement process

Hip replacement surgery is one of the most common types of surgery in the UK with the majority of procedures being undertaken by older patients aged between 60 and 80.

Pre-operation 

Before undergoing any surgery, you may be able to choose the type of anaesthetic you're given - this is no different when undergoing a hip replacement.

Typically, there are two options - a general anaesthetic or epidural anaesthesia. Under general anaesthetic, you're asleep during the operation. Epidural anaesthesia is administered as an injection into the patient's spine which numbs the lower half of your body. This method is likely to be in combination with sedatives that make you drowsy and unaware of your surroundings. This is typically used for very stressed and worried patients. 

A surgeon may recommend an epidural as this reduces the chances of further complications that local anaesthesia may cause for people with an underlying health condition.

The Operation 

In order to improve your current condition, the removal of your existing hip joint is required. Once pain relief has been administered, the surgeon removes the existing hip joint completely. Additionally, the upper part of the femur is removed and the natural socket is hollowed out.

A socket is then fitted into the hollow in the pelvis and a metal stem with a smooth and rounded ball on its upper end is placed into the hollow. This process is also carried out for metal-on-metal hip resurfacing with less of the bone being removed from the femur. Only the joint surfaces are replaced with metal inserts.

In more recent years, some surgeons have been using a minimally-invasive technique in which the surgeon makes one to two cuts between 2-5 inches long instead of the traditional 8-10 inches. The same procedure is then performed through these smaller incisions. The technique of smaller cuts is believed to stem blood loss, ease pain post surgery, reduce hospital stays and ultimately recovery time,  as well as reduce the appearance of scars.

 What to do post-operation?

Recovery following a large operation such as a hip replacement can take more than six to 12  months. For the best recovery results, avoid pivoting or twisting. Furthermore, avoid turning the affected leg inward or bending at the hip more than 90 degrees. 

Even after your hip joint has healed, certain sports or heavy activity should be avoided at all cost. The replacement joint is designed for usual day-to-day activity and not extreme pressures and strain.

To make it easier for your recovery process, there are a number of simple measures to make life easier when you return home:

  • Keep stair climbing to a minimum. There are programmes and help available including fitting stair lifts, if necessary. If you do have to go up or down stairs, keep it to a minimum. 
  • Maintain a straight back in a firm chair. 
  • Fit additional rails where appropriate to help avoid falls and remove all clutter from the floor including mats.
  • Consider using an elevated toilet seat to reduce bending too far at the hips. Again, this can be provided and fitted through NHS programmes.

 At Benenden Hospital, we pride ourselves on our quality of service and ensuring that each and every patient leaves us feeling happy. If you have any questions regarding hip replacement surgery and the options available, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our specialist team members for more information.

Published on 21 August 2019