Hip Replacement Procedure

A hip replacement procedure is done to relieve pain and return proper function to the hip joint. The following is general information about the procedure.

Hip Replacement Procedure Steps

Typical hip replacement surgery can take from one and a half to three hours. The ball and socket joint consists of the head of the femur or thigh bone (shaped like a ball) and the acetabulum (a cup-shaped indentation in the pelvis within which the femoral head rotates).

The surgical team follows the steps below when performing a hip replacement procedure:

  • Anesthesia – the patient is first anesthetized with one of three main types of anesthesia: general, spinal or epidural. The latter is often used. Epidural anesthesia involves injecting the anesthetic into the space surrounding the spinal cord to block sensation in the lower part of the body. Compared to other types of anesthesia it causes less blood loss, lowers the risk of blood clots and reduces breathing problems after surgery.
  • The surgeon then makes an 8- to 12-inch incision along the patient's upper thigh. The doctor can decide whether to enter the joint from the side, back or front. The most common approach is through the back.
  • Next, the ligaments and muscles under the skin are separated.
  • Damaged bone and cartilage are removed.
  • When the surgeon reaches the inside of the joint, he or she separates the head of the femur (the ball section of the joint) from the acetabulum (the cup portion of the joint that is in the patient's pelvis). The surgeon saws off the head of the femur.
  • Using a power drill and special instrument to remove cartilage from the acetabulum, the surgeon shapes the area to conform to the acetabular side of the prosthesis.
  • The surgeon chooses an appropriate-sized acetabular prosthesis to insert into the pelvis. The piece is held in place by cement, by screws, or by being so tightly fitted into the space that it remains in place. (Eventually the implant and the patient's bone fuse).
  • Next, the surgeon replaces the femoral head. First a hollow shape is drilled into the patient's thighbone. (This will hold a shaft that will be attached to the head to keep the head in place).
  • The doctor then replaces the person's own femoral head with a metal or ceramic ball and attaches it to the stem.
  • X-rays are taken to ensure the prosthesis is properly placed.
  • The incision is washed to prevent infection.
  • The surgeon sutures closed the layers of tissue, using dissolvable sutures for the inner tissue layers and metal staples to close the uppermost layer of the skin. Between 10 and 14 days later, the staples are removed.

Hip Replacement Recovery

The patient usually starts physical therapy the day after surgery. The physical therapist teaches the patient normal movements such as how to bend, stand, or sit to avoid injury and destabilizing the hip. Patients also learn exercises to strengthen the new hip.

Most patients use a walker or crutches after the first four to six weeks, then a cane for another four to six weeks. After that, most patients are able to walk on their own. However, full recovery from hip replacement surgery can take many more weeks.

Contact a defective hip attorney today to find out if your case is eligible for compensation.

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