What is primary hip replacement surgery?

Hip replacement surgery is also known as total hip arthroplasty, and is used to replace damaged or worn out hip joints with an artificial joint. It is commonly used to address arthritis pain or following a hip fracture.

There are several types of arthritis which are able to affect the hip joint and lead to a patient requiring hip replacement surgery, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Why is hip replacement surgery needed?

When addressing rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, hip replacement is a typical course of action. Usually, the decision is taken to proceed with a hip replacement surgery after other forms of treatment have not been able to control the arthritis pain satisfactorily. These other forms of treatment can include supportive devices for walking, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injection.

What does total hip replacement surgery involve?

The surgeon will consent the patient and answer any questions which the patient may have relating to the procedure. The method of anaesthesia will also be discussed between the patient and an anaesthetist. The patient will then enter the operating room, after having abstained from food for at least six hours.

After making incisions in the hip, the surgeon will remove the damaged parts of the hip joint, before installing the artificial socket, also known as the acetabular prosthesis. This will then be followed by insertion of the femoral implant in the top part of the thigh bone. A cemented prosthesis is attached to the bone by the surgeon using surgical cement, while a porous surface is used to attach uncemented prostheses. The procedure normally lasts between one and two hours.

Recovery time

After being monitored in hospital for a few days, patients are typically permitted to return home and rest. It is accepted that hip replacement patients normally recover faster than those who have undergone a knee replacement, but the recovery period can still take up to six months, although some can recover in as little as five to six weeks. In the early recovery stages, walking aids are often needed and patients cannot drive for six weeks. A variety of physical therapy exercises, gradually increasing in intensity, can also play a valuable part in the recovery process.