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Hip replacement surgery

What is hip replacement surgery

Hip joint replacement is surgery to replace all or part of the hip joint with a man-made joint. The artificial joint is called a prosthesis.

Your new hip joint

Your hip joint is made up of two major parts. One or both parts may be replaced during surgery:

  • Hip socket (a part of the pelvic bone called the acetabulum)
  • Upper end of the thighbone (called the femur)

A new socket replaces your old hip socket.

  • The socket is usually made of a highly polished strong metal or ceramic material.
  • A liner fits inside the socket. It is usually plastic, but some surgeons use other materials, like ceramic or metal. The liner allows the hip to move smoothly.
  • A metal or ceramic ball will replace the round head (top) of your thigh bone.
  • This ball sits on a metal stem that goes down the shaft of the thigh bone.

What happens during surgery

You will not feel any pain during surgery because you will have one of the two types of anesthesia:

  • General anesthesia. This means you will be unconscious and unable to feel pain.
  • Regional (spinal or epidural) anesthesia. Medicine is put into your back to make you numb below your waist. You will also receive medicine to make you sleepy.

Your surgeon will then make a cut (incision) to open up your hip joint. Then your surgeon will:

  • Remove the head of your thigh bone (femur).
  • Clean out your hip socket and remove the remaining cartilage and damaged or arthritic bone.
  • Put the new hip socket in place and place a liner in the new socket.
  • The metal stem is inserted into your thigh bone.
  • Place the correctly sized ball for the new joint onto the metal stem.
  • Fix all the new parts in place, sometimes with a special cement.
  • Repair the muscles and tendons around the new joint.
  • Close the incision.

This surgery will usually take 1 to 3 hours. You will stay in the hospital for 1 to 3 days. Full recovery will take from 2 months to a year.

Some surgeons are using a newer surgery technique called minimally invasive hip replacement. This type of surgery uses a smaller surgical cut or incision.

How well will this hip replacement surgery work?

Hip replacement surgery results are usually excellent. Most or all of your pain and stiffness should go away.

Some people may have problems with infection. The new hip joint also may be dislocated. Both of these problems are uncommon.

Over time -- sometimes as long as 20 years -- the artificial hip joint can loosen. A second surgery to revise the replacement may be needed.

Younger, more active people may wear out parts of their new hip. Their artificial hip may need to be replaced before it loosens.

Are you already scheduled for a hip replacement? Click here to take the Get ready for hip replacement surgery assessment.

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Review Date: 12/31/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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