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Hip replacement

What is a hip replacement?

Hip replacement – also called hip arthroplasty – is a surgical procedure to replace damaged sections of the hip joint with artificial implants, which are normally made from metal, ceramic or hard plastic. Depending on the extent of the damage or disease in your joint you may be given a total or a partial hip replacement.

With a total hip replacement, your entire hip joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic implant whereas with a partial hip replacement, only the damaged section of your hip joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic implant.

Modern prosthetic implants last at least twenty to thirty years in most cases. After this time you may need a revision hip replacement, which means replacing the worn-out implant with a new one. Revision hip replacement surgery generally takes longer than a first time hip replacement and there is a greater risk of complications.

What does hip replacement involve?

Prior to surgery you will undergo a detailed examination with your orthopaedic consultant. This will involve taking your medical history, examining your hip to assess the range of motion in your joint and arranging any scans. You may be given an X-ray or an MRI scan to assess the level of damage in your joint. You may also be given a diagnostic injection of anaesthetic to confirm the precise location of the pain.

On the day of your procedure you will be given a general anaesthetic or epidural, which numbs the lower half of your body. In conventional hip replacement surgery, the surgeon makes an incision along the front or side of your hip. Diseased and damaged bone and cartilage is cut away, leaving healthy bone and tissue. A prosthetic implant is inserted into your pelvic bone and fixed in place. The round ball at the top of your femur is replaced with an artificial ball, which is attached to a stem that fits inside your thighbone.

Once the procedure is completed, the incision is closed and you are moved to the recovery room while the anaesthetic wears off.

Hip replacement

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