Total Hip Replacement

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Total hip replacement surgery is a kind of surgery designed for people who have severe damage in one or both of their hip joints. When the damage is serious enough that it can't be repaired, then replacing the joint may be the best solution.

Who Should Have Total Hip Replacement Surgery?

When someone needs total hip replacement surgery, it's because the cartilage and bone of the hip joint has suffered severe and irreparable damage. In most cases, surgery is performed on people who have a degenerative disease such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, or have suffered certain kinds of hip joint fracture.

People with health problems that affect the hip joints tend to suffer from chronic pain that gets more intense over time. Eventually pain and weakness of the hip joint makes it harder to do things like climb stairs, walk, and even get up from a chair.

Total hip replacement is generally considered as a solution when someone is in such severe pain that it can't be managed with medication, and their daily life is severely restricted. However, it's important to understand that the lifetime of an artificial hip joint is limited. They don't last forever, and especially for younger people, it's likely that the artificial hip will need to be replaced at a later date.

About the Surgery

In total hip replacement surgery, the patient's hip joint is removed and then replaced with an artificial joint. This is usually performed while the patient is under a general anaesthetic, however, some people have a local anaesthetic that numbs their body from the waist down. They're awake during the surgery, but are sedated to help them feel relaxed.

During the procedure, an incision is made to expose the hip joint, and then the surgeon dislocates the joint by removing the head of the femur from the hip joint. A prosthetic hip socket made of plastic is inserted into the hip joint, and the head of the femur is removed from the bone. The head is replaced with an artificial one made of metal and then the bone is placed back into the hip socket. Finally, the surgeon tests the new joint's range of motion and stability, before closing up the incision to end the operation.

Like all surgical procedures, there are some risks associated with total hip replacement surgery. These include risks of infection, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and excessive bleeding. If you have total hip replacement surgery it's important to follow your surgeon's instructions exactly to minimise your risk of complications and get through the recovery process smoothly.

Preparing for Surgery

To prepare for a total hip replacement, a patient must have a preoperative evaluation. In this evaluation the patient's general health is assessed, and the medications they take are reviewed. These measures are taken to minimise the risks of surgery. For instance, if blood tests show that a patient has an infection, or uncontrolled diabetes, their surgery may be delayed until their condition improves. Similarly, reviewing a patient's medications is important to ensure that they're not taking medications that might increase any surgical risks.

Post-Op Recovery

The first night after a total hip replacement, the patient is usually confined to bed, where they must lie with a specially-shaped pillow between their legs. This helps keep the new artificial hip joint in the right place and position. By the next day, most people are able to start the recovery process, which typically includes some physical therapy. Within a few days of having a total hip replacement, most people are able to walk with the aid of a cane or other support device.

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