The thought of having hip replacement surgery may seem overwhelming, but simply speaking, you’re just replacing worn out parts with new parts. The damaged portions of the bones are removed and resurfaced with metal implants and polyethylene (plastic) cushions.
Hip replacement is a reliable and reproducible surgical procedure with good long-term outcomes and survivorship; however, there are risks associated with it.
Depending on the complexity of the procedure, the operative time may vary, but on average hip replacement takes one to two hours to complete. Although each surgery is different, below is a simplified summary of what you can expect on the day of a standard hip replacement surgery.
1. Generally, you won’t be able to eat or drink after midnight in preparation for surgery.
2. You’ll typically arrive at the hospital about two hours before your scheduled surgery. During this time, you will review and sign required paperwork. The nurses will take you to your room and get you prepared.
3. A small tube (IV) is inserted into your arm. This tube is used to administer antibiotics and other medication during your surgery.
4. You’ll discuss the options of a spinal or general anesthesia with the anesthetist prior to surgery. The option that’s best for you may be dependent on your medical history and your surgeon’s preference. You’ll be given sedative medication prior to entering the operating room, this often makes it difficult to remember details on the day of surgery.
5. Once you are asleep, a urinary catheter may be inserted, and compression stockings and/or pneumatic sleeves are put on both legs. The urinary catheter is used commonly with spinal anesthetic and may also be used until you have increased mobility. The compression devices are used to reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs, which is one of the most common preventable complications after joint replacement.
6. Your operative leg will be prepped with a sterilizing solution and sterile drapes will be applied.
7. A skin incision is made. This can be in the front, or side, of your hip based on your surgeon’s preference. To expose the joint, the soft tissue and muscles are split along their natural tissue planes. A common misconception is that the muscles are cut; this is not the case with any surgical approaches to the hip.
8. Through this exposure your surgeon can see your hip joint. With a total hip replacement, both the ball and socket portions of the joint must be replaced.
Written by Dr. Thomas Aleto who received remuneration as a Zimmer Biomet consultant for writing this article