Total Hip Replacement

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

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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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2015
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