If you are considering hip replacement surgery, there are a few things you should know about the process to ensure the best possible results. While hip replacement surgery has proven to be one of the safest and most successful orthopedic procedures done today, no surgery is without risk, and replacement procedures are not an easy fix for joint problems. You will need extensive physical therapy after surgery to rehabilitate your hip and complete recovery can take up to a year. Additionally, learning about hip implant options and choosing yours carefully is important, since there have been some problems lately with faulty or poorly designed hip replacement products.
Hip Replacement: What You Can Expect
Hip replacement surgery is typically done through an incision in the front or side of your hip and replaces the femoral head, the ball portion of the joint, with a prosthetic ball, and the acetabulum, or socket portion, with an artificial socket. Implants can be made of metal, plastic or ceramics, with most using a combination of these materials, a ceramic ball and a metal or plastic socket, for instance.
After your procedure is completed and the anesthesia has worn off, a physical therapist will typically appear in short order to encourage you to sit up and perhaps even walk with crutches or a walker. Getting up and moving quickly is important, reducing your risk of surgical complications, such as blood clots or pulmonary problems. Also, patients who start physical therapy quickly after surgery have been shown to recover more quickly and completely than those who spend time immobilized after their procedure.
Throughout your hospital stay, you'll likely be asked to wear compression stockings to reduce blood clot risk, and you'll be instructed on movement and activity limitations to avoid implant dislocation during your recovery period. You will walk every day, assisted at first, then slowly transitioning to independence when your doctor and therapist feel you are ready. Your therapist will work with you to restore range of motion and strength to the hip with gentle exercise. Once you're discharged from the hospital, physical therapy should continue for at least six to eight weeks to rehabilitate the your hip. You can have therapy at home, on an outpatient basis, or check into a rehabilitation hospital for a few weeks of intensive therapy.
Hip Implant Recalls: The Details
Choosing your implant carefully can reduce your risk of complications, helping ensure a quick recovery and the best results from your procedure. Metal-on-metal implant systems and components have been particularly troublesome in many patients, so avoiding them might be wise. Several have been recalled due to high rates of premature failure and serious complications, including the DePuy ASR, Stryker Rejuvenate and Zimmer Durom Cup. Among the most serious problems seen with these products is metallosis, which occurs due to metallic debris shed from the implants. In many cases, that debris accumulates in soft tissues, causing severe pain and inflammation and in some cases, tissue death and bone loss. Many patients have to undergo complex and costly revision surgeries, and hundreds of hip lawsuits have been filed.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.