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Hip replacement FAQs

According to the National Joint Registry, an estimated 160,000 total hip and knee replacements are performed every year in England and Wales alone. If you're considering hip replacement surgery and want to know more, you're in the right place.

Mr Nadim Aslam, Consultant Orthopaedic and Knee Surgeon at BMI The Priory Hospital, responds to our frequently asked questions about hip replacement surgery, including how long you can expect your replacement to last, the cost of a hip replacement and what the procedure involves. 

Mr Nadim Aslam: In most cases, modern day hip replacements should last at least 15-20 years. Although the materials that are used to build modern hip replacements have improved, the longevity of these replacements is also dependent on how active you are and your age.

Mr Nadim Aslam: During a total hip replacement procedure, an incision is made to access your hip and thigh bone.

The damaged femoral head is removed and replaced with a metallic head and metal stem that attaches to the rest of your thigh bone.

The damaged bone and cartilage within the socket of your hip bone are also removed and replaced with a metal shell that has a liner.

After these damaged parts have been placed, the new femoral head will be able to move inside this new smooth socket in your hip bone.

Mr Nadim Aslam: Hip replacements consist of three components, which are a socket that has a liner, the hip femoral stem and the femoral head.

The sockets are made of metallic alloys and sometimes titanium.

The femoral heads are formed of stainless steel or ceramic. The liners are made of highly cross-linked polyethylene. Sometimes, ceramic might be used to create these liners. 

Mr Nadim Aslam: A hip replacement operation usually takes between 60 to 90 minutes.

Mr Nadim Aslam: Enhanced recovery pathways means you will only have to stay in hospital for one to three days.

Your doctor will usually suggest an enhanced recovery programme if you are generally fit and healthy. This involves walking the day after your operation.

Research shows that the earlier you get out of bed and begin walking, eating and drinking the better. This speeds up your recovery and reduces the risk of infection.

Mr Nadim Aslam: Your hip arthritic pain will improve within one day, while any pain at the site of your surgery will continue for around two to four weeks.

Crutches are generally used between the first four to six weeks of your recovery period, but by six weeks, most patients are able to walk comfortably.

Your recovery time also depends on other factors, including how active you were prior to surgery and any pre-existing conditions that you might have. 

Mr Nadim Aslam: Hip replacements can be performed under regional anaesthesia.

In most cases, this would involve a spinal anaesthetic, which provides better control over any pain and reduces your risk of experiencing respiratory problems and thrombosis.

Mr Nadim Aslam: A package deal which includes the cost of surgery, the prosthesis used, anaesthesia and three days of hospital stay and medication can vary between £12,000 to £15,000.

The average cost of hip replacement surgery is around £12,500.

Mr Nadim Aslam: Titanium is the name given to the material that is used to make the hip socket or hip stem. It is commonly used material as its properties help the prosthetic's components bond to your bone.

Mr Nadim Aslam: A posterior hip replacement is a procedure that is carried out using the posterior approach. The name represent approach the surgeon your surgeon takes to access the hip replacement.

The posterior approach means your surgeon accesses your hip joint from the back of your hip instead of the front (anterior approach) or the side (lateral approach) .

Mr Nadim Aslam: A minimally invasive hip replacement is a surgery technique that is used to perform a hip replacement.

It uses a smaller incision which means there is less tissue damage and trauma. The aim of this procedure is to minimise trauma to your surrounding muscles, conserve bone and improve the rate of your recovery. 

Mr Nadim Aslam: During the first six weeks after your surgery, we would advise that you do not bend in an angle more than 90 degrees.

If you need to pick up an object, you can place your leg out behind you to avoid excessive hip flexion. 

Mr Nadim Aslam: We would advise being careful due to the risk of dislocation.

The stiffness of your hip will determine how flexible you are, but after six weeks it might be possible to do this in a controlled and safe way.

Mr Nadim Aslam: We would allow you to walk immediately after a hip replacement. 

During the first two to four weeks of your recovery period, you should be limited to shorter distances. This is due to any tiredness that you might experience from walking, rather than restrictions caused by the hip implant itself.

After four to six weeks, you can gradually increase how long you walk for.  

Mr Nadim Aslam: Hip replacements should allow you to run. However, impact loading or running on a hard surface can increase the wear rate of your hip.

For high-impact contact sports you should wait for around six weeks until you get back into the game.

Before getting into a swimming pool, you should also wait for around four to six weeks until the incision from srugery has completely healed.

We allow leisure activities such as tennis, golf and increased gym exercise from six weeks after your hip replacement surgery.

Mr Nadim Aslam: We would recommend resuming sexual activity after four to six weeks following your procedure.  

Mr Nadim Aslam: If you wish to go skiing, we recommend waiting six weeks.

It is best to avoid jumping activities and to start skiing with a phased return.

Mr Nadim Aslam: We would advise going back to driving from four to six weeks. The legal requirement for driving means you will need to be able to perform an emergency stop.

If you have a left hip replacement and drive an automatic vehicle, you could return to driving earlier, at around four weeks. However, medications such as opioids could delay how soon you can go back to driving.

Mr Nadim Aslam: Hip replacements are associated with a risk of thrombosis in the lower limbs.

As a result, we advise not attending any short haul flights (less than 4 hours) for two to three months and long haul flights (more than eight hours) for six months due to the increase risk of thrombosis.

If you do attend a flight within the first six months of your surgery, we advise wearing stockings, doing calf exercises and taking anticoagulants beforehand. 

Mr Nadim Aslam: Most people do very well following a minimally invasive total hip replacement procedure. But as with any surgery, the procedure does carry some risks. There is a possible risk of infection, bleeding, blood clots and injury to your nearby nerves after surgery.

It is possible to also experience a loosening or dislocation of the hip joint or having one leg that is a little shorter than the other. 
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