Risks of Hip Replacement Surgery

Infection

The risk is 1-2%. May be doubled in diabetic patients and those that are obese. The risk of MRSA is much less than this. Antibiotics are given to prevent infection before and after surgery. Most infection respond to antibiotics.

Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)

This risk is also 1-2%. This is prevented by keeping you well hydrated, giving you special stockings to wear and also an injection to thin your blood throughout your hospital stay. Getting out of bed as soon as possible after surgery also minimises this risk. Rarely the blood clot can dislodge from the leg veins and travel to the lung with serious consequences. (Pulmonary embolism).

Dislocation

This should not occur if instructions given by the physiotherapist and nurses are followed. The risk is small, though greatest in the first three months after surgery.

Leg length discrepancy

Though every effort is made to keep your legs of equal length, discrepancies can occur. If your leg was very short before surgery, it may not be possible to make both legs of equal length. The difference in length if present, is easily corrected with an insert in the shoe.

Fracture

Prostheses that are held in the bone without cement have to be wedged in place. In doing so there is a risk of bone fracture. This does not cause any long term problems but may require you to use crutches post operatively, for six to twelve weeks.

Nerve and Artery Damage

Important nerves and arteries are in close proximity to the hip joint and hence are at risk of trauma during surgery. The risk to these structures is usually small.

Limp

Though most patients limp after surgery, this usually improves. The limp is due to weakness of the muscles around the hip as they have been cut during surgery. As they heal, the limp improves. In patients who were unable to exercise before surgery, the muscle becomes very weak. Following surgery a full recovery may not be possible.

Loosening

Most prostheses should last 10-15 years. Many last beyond that.