About Hip Replacement Surgery

Overview of the Procedure

As a patient considering total hip replacement surgery (THR), you probably have many questions. This information will help prepare you for what to expect during your hospitalization and rehabilitation.

Total hip replacement surgery is done to replace an arthritic or badly damaged hip joint with man-made parts. The man-made part is called a prosthesis (prohs-thee-sis) and can be made of many different materials including metal, polyethylene (plastic), ceramic or a combination of materials. Your surgeon will choose the prosthesis that is best for you. The goal of THR surgery is to increase mobility and lessen pain. Total hip replacements are also called total hip arthroplasty (THA).

About the Procedure

The hip (shown in Figure 1) is a ball and socket joint. The head of the femur (thighbone) fits into the acetabulum (socket of the pelvic bone) to form the hip joint. In a healthy joint, the ends of the bones are covered with articular cartilage, which allows smooth pain-free motion. The most common reason for a hip replacement is related to the wearing away of cartilage leading to pain, limited mobility and instability.

During hip replacement surgery, the surgeon makes an incision to expose the hip joint (shown in Figure 2).

The surgeon prepares the acetabulum by removing the damaged cartilage and replacing it with a prosthetic part or cup that serves as the new socket. Then, the surgeon prepares the femur to accommodate the stem of the prosthesis. The stem and its bearing surface (ball) are then inserted into the canal of the femur. The stem may or may not be cemented in place. Finally, the ball and socket are lined up precisely (shown in Figure 3). A drain tube may be placed into the wound, and the wound is closed. A bandage is applied.


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