Hip Replacement Surgery and What to Expect After the Procedure

Total hip replacement surgery replaces damaged cartilage with new joint material. The upper end of the thighbone, known as the femur, is replaced with a metal ball, while the hip socket in the pelvic bone is resurfaced with a metal shell and plastic liner.

There are two ways in which hips are replaced – cemented and non-cemented. Cemented joints are attached to the bone with cement that acts as glue. Non-cemented joints use a porous coating that enables the bone to firmly adhere to the artificial joint. As time goes by, the bone grows and fills the openings in the porous coating so that the joint becomes attached to the bone.

General anesthesia is normally used for hip replacement surgeries, as this can be a painful process. However, sometimes regional anesthesia is used, meaning the patient is awake but sleepy and not feeling the pain of the surgery.

Given new technological advancements, some doctors are now performing minimally invasive hip replacement surgery, which entails smaller incisions, reduced blood loss and less scarring after surgery. However, the actual surgery can take much longer than traditional surgery, as it is a much more complicated process. Therefore, minimally invasive surgery is not often used for hip replacement.

There are many highly-qualified orthopaedic surgeons in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. We recommend you research these surgeons online, obtain their credentials and get referrals from family, friends and your general practitioner.

What to Expect Immediately After Hip Replacement Surgery

Intravenous antibiotics are normally administered after hip replacement surgery for a day. Patients also generally receive pain medication, and sometimes anticoagulants to prevent blood clots.

After waking up from hip replacement surgery, the patient often has a catheter connected to the bladder to minimize the need for going to the bathroom to urinate. A compression pump or stocking may also be used on the leg. This device keeps blood circulating throughout the leg and prevents blood clots. There may also be a cushion placed between the legs to keep the new hip in the proper position.

The Rehabilitation Process

Rehabilitation varies, depending on which type of surgery was performed – cemented or non-cemented. Generally, no weight may be placed on a non-cemented him for up to six weeks. With a cemented or hybrid hip (a combination of both cemented and non-cemented material), some weight may be placed on the hip immediately after surgery. However, with either method, the patient requires a cane, walker or crutches for several weeks during the rehab period.

Most people require help to get out of bed the day after surgery. After that, they learn to walk on their own with the use of crutches or a walker. A physical therapist will help the patient learn exercises to aid in healing, and adapt their lifestyle to the new hip replacement. Additionally, occupational therapy may be required during the rehabilitation process.

Some general precautions are recommended after hip replacement surgery to keep the hip from dislocating:

1.  Do not cross your legs.

2.  Do not bend your hip more than 90 degrees. In order to adhere to this recommendation, you may need to sit on higher chairs, beds or toilets. A special raiser may be required for your toilet seat.

3.  Never raise your knee higher than your hip.

4.  Do not lean forward while sitting, rising or standing up.

Many people return home within a week of hip replacement surgery, but some need more extensive rehab. In these instances, a highly-qualified and specialized rehab center is recommended.

Selecting the Best Rehabilitation Facility for You

The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area is home to many options for rehabilitation following hip replacement surgery. In researching the best option for you or a loved one, consider the following:

Is the facility close to home? It’s likely that you’ll have frequent visitors, so choosing a nearby facility is important.
Do you feel comfortable in the facility? Your rehabilitation will be your full-time environment for a number of weeks. Ensure the amenities, entertainment and activities are of the highest standards.
Do you enjoy the cuisine? You’ll be surprised at how important the quality and variety of food will be during your rehabilitation process. Make sure your selection provides the best choices for you.
Is the staff qualified and to your liking? Nothing matters more than the caliber of staff caring for you after hip replacement surgery. In advance of choosing your facility, meet the physiatrist (if one is on staff full-time), the other doctors, trainers and nurses. Make sure you feel comfortable with their level of expertise, overall demeanor and bedside manner.