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- Total hip replacement facts
- What is a total hip replacement?
- Who is a candidate for total hip replacement?
- What are total hip replacement complications?
- What preparation is needed for the procedure?
- What will recovery be like for the patient after surgery?
- What is involved in the rehabilitation process after total hip joint replacement?
- What other postoperative instructions are given to patients with total hip joint replacements?
- What is the prognosis of total hip joint replacement?
What are total hip replacement complications?
The risks of total hip replacement include blood clots in the lower extremities that can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). Severe cases of pulmonary embolism are rare but can cause respiratory failure and death. Other problems include difficulty with urination, local skin or joint infection, fracture of the bone during and after surgery, scarring, limitation of motion of the hip, dislocation of the hip replacement, and loosening of the prosthesis that eventually leads to prosthesis failure. Because total hip joint replacement requires anesthesia, the usual risks of anesthesia apply and include heart arrhythmias, stroke, liver toxicity, and pneumonia.
What preparation is needed for the procedure?
The preoperative evaluation generally includes a review of all medications being taken by the patient. Anti-inflammatory medications, including aspirin, are often discontinued one week prior to surgery because of the effect of these medications on platelet function and blood clotting. Other preoperative evaluations include complete blood counts, electrolytes (potassium, sodium, chloride), blood tests for kidney and liver functions, urinalysis, chest X-ray, EKG, and a physical examination. Your physician will determine which of these tests are required, based on your age and medical conditions. Any indications of infection, severe heart or lung disease, or active metabolic disturbances such as uncontrolled diabetes may postpone or defer total hip joint surgery.
If the condition of the hip allows it, some doctors will recommend a preoperative exercise program to build muscle and increase flexibility. This can help with recovery.
Total hip joint replacement can involve blood loss. Patients planning to undergo total hip replacement often will donate their own (autologous) blood to be stored for transfusion during the surgery. Should blood transfusion be required, the patient will have the advantage of having his or her own blood available, thus minimizing the risks related to blood transfusions.