Hip Replacement

  • Total hip replacement involves replacing a hip joint damaged by wear, injury, or disease. This procedure is also called open hip replacement or total hip arthroplasty. The hip joint is a "ball and socket" joint and is your largest weight-bearing joint. The ball-shaped top of the femur (thigh bone) sits in the acetabulum socket (hollow area) of the pelvic bone. The joint is held together by ligaments and muscles. The socket is lined with cartilage (firm, flexible tissue) that can become damaged or worn away, causing pain. Arthritis, infection, injury, or loss of blood supply to the ball of the femur can damage the joint. You may need to have a hip replacement when you have unrelieved pain or problems walking.

    Before Surgery
    At Memorial Bone & Joint, we want you to be informed and prepared for your surgery. You and a loved one or caregiver will be asked to attend an informative pre-surgical class. The classes are held every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. at Memorial University Medical Center. Call 912-350-3603 for more information.

    You will be invited to watch a pre-surgery educational video online. We will give you log-in information to access the video. If you do not have a computer with Internet access, you can watch the video at Memorial University Medical Center.

    You will be given a handbook detailing appointments, pre-surgical testing, and preparations you should make at home.

    The Surgical Process
    You will receive anesthesia to ensure that you do not feel anything. Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) on your hip. The damaged parts of your hip joint are removed and replaced by artificial implants (man-made parts). The implants may be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic material. They are fixed tightly inside your femur and pelvic bones. Once in place, they are joined together just like a ball fitting in a socket. Your wound will be closed with stitches or staples.

    Our surgeons offer both anterior and posterior hip replacement. Posterior/traditional hip replacement involves making an incision on the side or back of the hip. The anterior approach is less invasive and involves an incision on the front of the hip. During the anterior approach, muscle is not detached from the pelvis or femur. Memorial University Medical Center was the first hospital in the region to offer the anterior approach for hip replacement.

    After Surgery
    You will be taken to a recovery room, where you will stay until you are fully awake. Caregivers will watch you closely to ensure you do not have any complications. Do not try to get out of bed until your caregiver says it is ok. You will be asked to use an incentive spirometer (special device) to help improve how your lungs work. When caregivers see that you are awake, you will be taken to your hospital room. The bandage covering your incision will keep the area clean and dry to help prevent infection. A caregiver will remove the bandages soon after your surgery to check your wound. You will receive pain medication as needed and will begin physical therapy.

    Discharge and Follow Up
    The average hospital stay after joint replacement surgery is two days. You will be asked to follow up with your surgeon within 10 to 14 days. Because every person’s body is different, you may require a longer hospital stay. You will be given specific guidelines to follow at home.

    Physical and occupational therapy will continue for four weeks. Your physical therapist will teach you to use a walker and help you increase your mobility and movement through exercise. Your occupational therapist will help you learn how to perform daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and simple household tasks.

    For your therapy, you can visit The Rehabilitation Institute at Memorial University Medical Center, contact a different facility, or arrange to have a therapist come to your home.

    Recovery and Moving On
    Recovery after joint replacement surgery is a steady but gradual process. Most people use a walker for four weeks. They can drive a car within six weeks. They can dance slowly within six to eight weeks, and play golf, doubles tennis, shuffleboard, and bowl within 12 weeks. More strenuous sports, such as singles tennis and jogging, are not recommended after joint replacement. Keep in mind that healing and recovery times vary with each person. Your physician and therapist can help you decide when you’re ready to begin new tasks.

    Joint replacement is considered a miracle of modern surgery. Most orthopaedic experts consider joint replacement to be the best method of handling advanced arthritis in the hip. Joint replacements have literally put hundreds of thousands of Americans back on their feet.