Professor Lee Jeys
Hip replacement carries risk of complications like any other major surgery, although serious complications are uncommon, occurring in one in 100 cases.
Infection: You will be given antibiotics during and after surgery to reduce the risk of infection. Minor infections of the wound are generally treated with antibiotics. Major or deep infections may require more surgery and removal of the prosthesis.
Blood clots: Small risk of blood clots developing either inside one of your leg veins, known as deep vein thrombosis or inside your lungs, known as pulmonary embolism within first few weeks of surgery. You will be given blood thinning medication and leg stockings to reduce this risk.
Loosening: Loosening of the artificial hip is the most common cause of failure of hip replacement. It can happen at any time but is most common after 10-15 years. If loosening is painful, a second surgery called revision may be necessary.
Dislocation: Dislocation occurs if the ball of hip comes out of the socket. It is most likely to happen in the first few months after surgery when the tissues are healing. It needs to be put back in place under anaesthetic. For recurrent dislocations, brace or further surgery may be required.
Leg length discrepancy: A small risk of your leg slightly shorter or longer after hip replacement and you may need to wear a raised shoe to correct your balance.
Nerve damage: Nerve damage can cause numbness around the scar or rarely loss of sensation or weakness in the foot. It usually is temporary.
David Gerard Houlihan-Burne
Patients must be fully informed and aware of all the potential complications of having a hip replacement. These include general complications of any surgery, as well as those specific to having a hip replacement. General complications include infection, both superficial wound infections and deep infections, and blood clots in the legs, more rarely in the lungs. Preventative measures are given for both of these.
More specific complications include dislocation of the artificial hip, damage to nerves and blood vessels, fracture of the bones of the hip and thigh and unequal leg lengths following surgery. Patients should also be aware of the life span of a hip replacement, with current replacements and surgical techniques proving a lifespan in excess of 10 - 15 years.
Mr Andrew Manktelow
Like any surgery, there are potential concerns. Clearly an infection in a hip replacement is a major issue and this can sometimes require the hip replacement to be removed and necessitate further surgery. Similarly, there are complications such as the hip jumping out of joint (dislocating), nerve injury and bleeding. Broken bones can occur as a consequence of the surgery. Similarly, clots can develop in the legs or indeed in the chest after surgery. For this reason various chemical and physical treatments are used to reduce the risks around the time of the procedure.
While there are very definite risks, patients who require hip surgery should be reassured by the fact that these risks are extremely uncommon. However, clearly all the potential concerns should all be discussed in detail with the surgeon.
If there is any specific or increased chance of there being complications, these should be identified. It is essential that everything that can be done should be done, to reduce those risks.