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Information for Patients & Caregivers

Hip Replacement

What is a Hip Replacement?hip implant

When non-operative treatment fails to control the discomfort and stiffness from arthritis of the hip, your surgeon may recommend total hip replacement. Joint replacement implants, typically made from metal alloy and polyethylene (plastic), are used to replace the joint. Newer implants with metal sockets are now being used in selective patients. Total hip replacement replaces the upper end of the femur (thighbone) and resurfaces the acetabulum (socket). The implants are designed to restore function and eliminate as much discomfort as possible while allowing you to return to a more active lifestyle.

Total hip replacement is an operation designed to replace a hip joint that has been damaged, usually by arthritis. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The ball is formed by the head of the femur and fits snugly into the acetabulum.

The surfaces of these bones are coated by a smooth substance known as articular cartilage. Arthritis causes the articular cartilage to wear, exposing the underlying bone. This is depicted in the diagram to the right entitled "Arthritic Hip". Arthritis can cause pain, deformity, and loss of mobility.

In a total hip replacement operation, the surgeon replaces the worn head of the thigh bone with a metal or ceramic ball mounted on a stem, while the socket is resurfaced with a polyethylene (plastic) or polyethylene lined metal cup. The prosthesis may be cemented in place with a filler or grout similar to dental cement, or securely pressed into place using no cement.arthritic hip

Biomet provides a wide range of implant choices and sizes available. Our goal is to provide designs that will address a wide range of patients' conditions and different anatomy. Only your orthopedic surgeon can tell you if you're a candidate for joint replacement surgery, and if so, which implant is right for your specific needs.

Hip Resurfacing

Hip resurfacing involves replacing the diseased or damaged surfaces in the hip joint (that is on top of the thigh bone and inside the socket of the hip bone) with metal surfaces. The operation is called metal on metal hip resurfacing.

The operation is recommended if you are under 65 with advanced hip disease and would otherwise out live a conventional hip replacement operation. Less bone is removed for hip resurfacing, making it easier to repeat the operation or to have a further total hip joint replacement in later years. A Hip resurfacing operation can help improve quality of life, however it is not suitable for everyone.

The Operation

This generally takes up to two hours.

Your surgeon will make a single cut around (20 to 30cm long) over your hip and thigh. Depending on the technique your surgeon is using the cut may be shorter.

The top end of the thigh bone will be removed and a ball on a stem will be placed into the thigh bone.

The hip socket will be hollowed out to make a shallow cup and an artificial socket will be placed into it. The artificial part of the thigh bone can then fit into this socket.

Your surgeon will close the wound with stitches or clips.

after Surgery

Physiotherapy exercises are important following total hip replacement, and a smooth recovery usually depends upon the patient following the established post-operative exercise routine.  Patients generally recover quite quickly however in some instances the patient will initially require crutches or a walking frame, progressing to the use of a walking cane for some months after.

Joint replacement surgery of the hip has been extremely successful in helping patients with arthritis return to their normal activities and relieve their discomfort.

Length of hospitalisation varies, but can range from 3 to 10 days. After discharge, visits to a physical therapist and exercises to be performed daily will be required.

During the post-operative period, techniques are taught for walking, negotiating stairs, getting in and out of chairs and motor vehicles, as well as getting on and off toilet seats.

Pre-operative and post-operative treatments vary due to many factors. Talk to your surgeon about the treatment and exercise schedule which is right for you.

Return to Work

Usually this is at the 3-month stage, but many people, especially those in sedentary jobs, return quicker than this.  Everyone is different and your doctor will advise you on when you will be ready to return to work.