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What is Hip Arthroplasty?

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  • Written By: K T Solis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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Hip arthroplasty is a surgery that is used to replace all or part of a patient's hip joint with a prosthetic hip. Patients who receive hip arthroplasty are candidates for this surgery because of tumors in the hip joint, severe arthritis which causes debilitating pain, or fractures in the neck of the femur. This procedure is mainly performed on people who are at least 60 years old. Younger people are not good candidates for the operation.

The prosthetic hip is comprised of three parts. The first part is a cup made from plastic, metal, or ceramic, used to replace the patient's hip socket. The second part of the prosthetic hip is a ceramic or metal ball. This serves as a replacement for the thigh bone's fractured head. The final part of the prosthetic hip is a metal stem. This stem is connected to the bone shaft, adding a stable basis for the prosthesis.

Before the surgeon performs hip arthroplasty on a patient, the patient must be evaluated to determine if he or she is the ideal candidate for the procedure. The patient's level of disability, lifestyle, and other medical problems will be assessed before the decision is made. The doctor will ensure that the patient's heart and lungs are healthy before approving this type of surgery.

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Once a patient is scheduled for the hip arthroplasty, he or she is given general or spinal anesthesia. After the hip joint is exposed, the surgeon removes the head of the thigh bone. He or she then cleans the hip socket. A tool called a reamer is used to remove arthritic bone and cartilage around the hip socket area. After this occurs, the surgeon places the new socket into position. The metal stem is placed inside the thigh bone.

Next, the artificial parts of the new hip are put into position. Finally, the patient's muscles and tendons are replaced and the wound is closed. Patients wear compression stockings immediately following the procedure to help reduce the formation of blood clots.

Most patients experience varying degrees of pain following the surgery, so medical professionals prescribe them appropriate pain medication. The medication will be administered through an epidural, a patient-controlled device, or intravenously. After three days have passed, the pain has usually decreased and oral pain medication is usually enough to control any remaining discomfort.

While in bed, the patient is instructed on how to perform special ankle exercises in order to prevent blood clots from developing. The day following the surgery, the patient is encouraged to leave bed and sit in a chair. Patients are encouraged to start walking and moving as soon as possible. Most patients remain in the hospital for about three to five days after surgery.

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