Hip Replacement Information : Surgical Information


What is a total hip replacement?

The hip joint is a "ball and socket" joint made up of two bones. A total hip replacement, also called hip arthroplasty, is a procedure in which a surgeon removes damaged joint surfaces on the upper thigh bone and hip socket and replaces them with an artificial implant or prosthesis.

Total hip arthroplasty is the second most common joint replacement procedure, after knee replacements. The procedure usually takes a couple of hours, and is followed by weeks or months of carefully monitored recovery and rehabilitation. Another surgical option, the hemi (or half) hip replacement, only replaces the ball portion of the joint.

When is a total hip replacement necessary?

A patient’s pain level and degree of disability determine whether hip replacement surgery is required. Doctors typically reserve the procedure for patients whose persistent pain is not alleviated by medication, physical therapy, use of supportive aids or other non-surgical treatments.

When is hip replacement surgery recommended?

There are several reasons why doctors recommend hip replacement surgery. Those who can benefit the most from hip replacement surgery frequently experience hip pain that:

  • Limits daily life activities, such as walking, bending and going up and down stairs
  • Continues throughout the day and night, or when resting
  • Limits the ability to move or lift the affected leg
  • Does not go away, even with use of anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, or supportive walking aids

What are some benefits of hip replacement surgery?

For most who receive hip replacements, the benefits can include: increased mobility, decreased pain, and an overall improvement in the quality of life.

Hip Replacement Fast Facts

  • Hip replacement surgery is one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine.
  • About 285,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the U.S.
  • Most people who undergo total hip replacement are 50 to 80 years of age.
  • Less than two percent of patients experience serious complications following a total hip replacement.

What is a ‘minimally invasive’ hip replacement?

Minimally invasive hip replacement means that the procedure is performed through fewer and/or smaller incisions. Candidates for a minimally invasive hip replacement are typically younger, healthier and thinner than patients who undergo a total hip replacement. Because the surgery isn’t as extensive, patients usually experience less pain and muscle damage.

The hospital stay following a minimally invasive surgery may be as short as 1 or 2 days, though some patients return home the same day. Recovery and rehabilitation are also quicker. Implants for the minimally invasive surgery are the same as those used for a total hip replacement.

How long will a new hip implant last?

Like all medical devices, orthopedic implants have a limited life expectancy that’s affected by the patient’s body weight, age, activity level, rehabilitation plan compliance and other factors. This makes it difficult to predict how long a particular implant will last. On average, however, most high-quality hip implants should remain viable for 10 to 20 years. One large-scale clinical study of hip-replacement patients reports that in patients under 65 years of age, 80% of hip replacements were functioning well after 15 years; in patients over 65, the number was 90%.