Total Hip Replacement - A Step-by-Step Guide from Rothman Institute

Our bodies are truly amazing! While "bones, tendons, ligaments and joints" may sound just like a chapter title from a high school anatomy textbook, the reality is that these body parts are essential in every aspect of our daily lives. They provide the ability for the many functions and movements we utilize on a daily basis. Consider the function of just one part - the hip joint. Without it the human body would be unable to properly bend at the waist, lift legs or get into a sitting position.

Like all joints of the body, the hip experiences wear and tear over time. However, the hip joint is somewhat unique in its susceptibility to early arthritis. Because it is a weight-bearing joint and is involved in so many of the movements we rely on to live an active life, it is often (along with the back) one of the first areas of the body to experience the level of cartilage breakdown that results in bone-on-bone interaction and intense pain.

For those suffering from this kind of pain due to hip arthritis, the solution is sometimes to have a surgery for total hip replacement. While your physician will first try other, more conservative approaches to managing your pain, if your arthritis continues to worsen, replacing the joint is often the best option.

A Step by Step Overview of the Surgery for Total Hip Replacement

Over the years, orthopedic physicians at Rothman Institute have mastered the art and science of hip replacement surgery. Today, it is considered a widely accepted solution for hip arthritis and is one of the most successful orthopedic surgeries of its kind.

If you are preparing to undergo this procedure, you may interested in a specific, step-by-step breakdown of what the surgery includes:

  • When you go in and are preparing for surgery on the day of your procedure, you may be given regional anesthesia or, in some cases, general anesthesia. Ask your physician about what he or she plans to arrange for you when you discuss the surgery.

  • After the incision is made, the surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage from the hip socket and will also take out the upper part of the femur bone, which will have a damaged surface due to the bone-on-bone contact.

  • Next, the surgical team will place the prosthetic components, which may be made of a combination of metal, ceramic and/or medical-grade plastic. This may be secured with or without the use of cement. Ask your surgeon what he or she plans to use.

  • Immediately prior to surgery and for about a day after, you will receive antibiotics. You will also be prescribed anticoagulants (blood thinner to reduce the risk of blood clotting) for a few weeks after surgery.

  • Afterward, you may have pain from the procedure itself, but most patients report having significant relief of the intense arthritic pain they had been experiencing prior to the surgery.

  • With some assistance, you will be out of bed on the day of surgery! The few days following the procedure will be spent learning how to safely navigate with a walker or a cane.

  • If you have your surgery for total hip replacement with Rothman physicians, we generally do not require strict restrictions of hip motion, known as "hip precautions." Simply avoid uncomfortable motions or positions, but feel free to use normal beds, chairs, toilets, etc.

  • Your first post-op visit will be somewhere between 4-6 weeks for after surgery.

  • The final step, of course, is for you to fully recover and go on to continue living an active, healthy, pain-free life! The majority of your recovery will occur during the first 3 months after surgery.

Here at Rothman Institute, we perform thousands of total hip replacements each year! Our hip specialists conduct their own research and regularly publish new findings on the topic of total hip replacement. It is here that some of the most advanced joint prosthesis parts and surgical methods have been designed. For more information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.
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