Hip replacement is a surgical procedure where an orthopedic surgeon removes a painful, arthritic hip joint. It is replaced with an artificial metal or plastic hip joint. Typically, hip replacement surgery is performed when all other treatment options have been exhausted. Other treatments have failed to provide the patient with any relief from pain, and walking has become increasingly difficult.
There are actually two different types of hip replacement procedures that can be used. The first is a traditional technique while the other is much less invasive. The major difference between the two replacement surgeries is the size of the incisions used.
Standard Hip Replacement Surgery
Standard hip replacement surgery is performed under a general anesthesia which prevents the patient from experiencing any pain and having any awareness of the surgery. The patient is covered with sterile drapes after the leg to be operated on is thoroughly sterilized.
Making an incision along the side of the hip, the Beverly Hills orthopedic surgeon moves the femur (thigh bone) muscles aside exposing the affected joint. After cutting the thigh bone with a surgical saw, the surgeon removes the damaged ball portion of the joint. Utilizing either cement or a special material which allows the remaining bone to adhere to the new joint, an artificial joint is attached to the femur.
The surgeon prepares the hip bone surface removing any damaged cartilage in the process. Then, the replacement socket is attached to the hip bone. The new ball is inserted into the artificial socket. A drain may be inserted in order to help drain off any fluid. The hip muscles are reattached and the incision is closed.
Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement Surgery:
Today, most hip replacement procedures are still performed using the standard surgical technique mentioned above which involves a single eight to ten inch incision along the side of the arthritic hip.
However, more recently, some Los Angeles orthopedic surgeons have starting performing a minimally invasive technique. In this particular approach, one or two shorter (two to five inches) incisions are made instead. After that, the same hip replacement procedure is performed through the smaller incisions.
Smaller incisions are thought to have the benefits of lessening any blood loss, easing postoperative pain, shortening the length of hospital stays, reducing the appearance of any scarring, and speeding healing rates. It is very important that a surgeon be extremely skilled in this newer approach.
During any type of hip replacement surgery, there is the chance of blood loss necessitating a blood transfusion. Many patients consider donating their own blood prior to undergoing a hip replacement procedure.
Hip Replacement Postoperative Expectations
The majority of hip replacement patients remain in the hospital for a period of four to six days. While in bed, a wedge shaped cushion is placed between the legs to ensure that the new hip joint stays in the proper position. A urinary catheter is often placed into the patient’s bladder to promote adequate drainage until they can get up to go to the bathroom on their own.
Generally, physical therapy starts the day following surgery. Patients progress from walking with a walker, to using crutches, and then a cane. Physiotherapy continues anywhere from two to three months according to the hip surgeon’s orders.