What is Hip Replacement Surgery?
Hip replacement surgery is a surgical procedure in which a doctor removes a painful hip joint and replaces it with an artificial one, usually made of plastic or metal. A hip replacement surgery relieves a painful hip and makes walking easier.
The hip joint is a ball and socket type of joint comprising of the head of the thigh bone and a socket made by a portion of the hip bone.
When is Hip Replacement Surgery Performed?
Hip replacement surgery is done when all other treatment options to relieve a painful hip fail. The commonest cause of a painful hip is arthritis, and there are different forms of it including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gouty arthritis.
Hip Osteoarthritis is caused by age-related wear and tear of the joint, while rheumatoid arthritis results from damage done to the joint by the body’s overactive immunity. When drugs and nonsurgical treatment options such as electrical stimulation do not provide sufficient relief from the pain, a hip replacement surgery is recommended.
How is Hip Replacement Surgery Performed?
Your doctor will order certain imaging investigations such as Hip X-ray and MRI to confirm the diagnosis and rule out similar diseases.
For the procedure, you will lie on the operating table and would be given an anaesthetic injection through an intravenous line placed in your wrist or front of your elbow to numb the pain and put you to a temporary deep sleep. You may also be given the anaesthetic in your spine as an alternative.
The doctor then makes an incision on the side of the affected thigh, and exposes the hip joint by moving the muscles and other tissues connected to the joint. The doctor then uses a saw to cut the ball portion of the thigh bone and replace it with an artificial joint.
The artificial joint is attached to the remaining part of your thigh bone with cement or another adherent material. Additionally, your doctor will attach a replacement socket to your hip bone. After this is done, the new ball part of the thigh bone is then inserted into this replacement socket.
The doctor may insert a draining tube to drain fluid that may build up within the site of the surgery. The muscles are reattached to the hip joint, and the skin incision is stitched back and dressed.
Your doctor may decide to use the minimally invasive method to perform this surgery. This approach involves making a much smaller incision (2-5 inch long as against the 8 – 10 inch long incision made in the traditional hip replacement surgery described above.
The advantages of this minimally invasive approach includes reduced stay at the hospital, less scar, speedy healing of the incision, and reduced loss of blood during the surgery.
After the surgery, you would be monitored on the hospital ward for the following four to six days before you are discharged. After you have been discharged from the hospital, your doctor will advise you to avoid twisting the affected hip and making bending movements such as squatting, as these might cause the new hip joint to be dislocated.
What risks are Associated with Hip Replacement Surgery?
The possible risks with hip replacement surgery include blood clots in the site of the surgery, small risk of unequal length of your legs after the surgery, and nerve damage.