Hip replacements have been highly successful for more than 30 years. Millions of people who have suffered from hip pain and arthritis have experienced relief through total hip replacement and restored mobility. Globally, hundreds of thousands of hip replacement procedures are performed each year. And because medicine is always developing new materials and procedures, the results continue to get better. The complication rate following total hip replacement is low. Serious complications, such as hip-joint infection, occur in approximately 1.0% of patients.1 Major medical complications, such as heart attack or stroke, occur even less frequently. (Of course, chronic illnesses may increase the potential for complications.)
Every surgical procedure has risks and benefits. Your individual results will depend on your personal circumstances, and recovery takes time. How long your hip replacement will last depends on many different factors, and everyone is unique. Only your doctor can discuss this aspect of surgery with you.
Each of the following reactions or complications can occur during and after surgery and may require medical attention (such as further surgery) and implant removal:
The most common complications specific to hip replacement surgery include loosening or dislocation of the implant and a slight difference in leg length. Your healthcare team can discuss these with you.
Blood clots in the leg veins are a possible complication of hip replacement surgery. Your surgeon will outline a prevention program. This may include periodic elevation of your legs, lower-leg exercises to increase circulation, support stockings, and medication to thin your blood.
Infection is a risk with any surgical procedure. According to a recent study, approximately 1.0% of patients get an infection in the first two years.1 When infection occurs after total hip replacement, it is most commonly caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream during dental procedures, or from urinary tract, skin, or fingernail infections. Although uncommon, when these complications occur, they can delay full recovery.
For the first two years after your hip replacement, your doctor may require you to take preventive antibiotics before dental or surgical procedures that could allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Generally, talk to your orthopedist and your dentist to see if you still need preventive antibiotics before other procedures.
The bone next to the hip implant may break down (called osteolysis) because of your body's reaction to particles that may be caused by:
Implant fracture has been reported following total hip replacement. This is typically caused by:
To minimize the possibility for implant fracture, it is important to follow medical instructions and to avoid excessive or inappropriate activity.
Given the risks, your doctor may decide that hip replacement surgery is not appropriate if: