Minimally Invasive Total Hip Replacement
What is total hip replacement?
Total hip replacement is a type of surgery to replace a damaged hip joint. A minimally
invasive total hip replacement uses a smaller cut (incision) than a traditional total
hip replacement. It also uses special tools.
In the hip joint, the rounded head of the thigh bone (the femoral head) moves smoothly
inside the round socket of the hip bone. The socket normally has a lining of cartilage,
which helps the bones move smoothly. When there is damage to this joint, moving the
femoral head may cause pain as the bones scrape together abnormally.
During minimally invasive total hip replacement, your surgeon makes an incision to
access your hip bone and thigh bone. Next, the surgeon removes the damaged femoral
head and replaces it with a smooth metal stem that attaches to the rest of the thigh
bone. Your surgeon also removes the damaged bone and cartilage within the socket of
the hip bone, replacing it with a metal shell. Then the new femoral head can move
inside the new smooth socket of the hip bone.
Minimally invasive total hip replacement often takes place under spinal or general
Why might I need total hip replacement?
You might need a total hip replacement if you have significant damage to your hip
joint. Different types of health conditions can damage this joint, such as:
- Osteoarthritis (most common)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Injury or break (fracture) of the hip joint
- Bone tumor in the hip joint
This damage might be painful and interfere with your daily activities. The procedure
may help decrease your pain, improve your joint mobility, and improve your quality
of life. Usually, healthcare providers only recommend total hip replacement if you
still have significant problems after you’ve tried other, more conservative treatments,
like pain medicines and assistive walking devices.
Talk with your provider about the benefits and risks of having a minimally invasive
total hip replacement instead of a traditional procedure. A minimally invasive procedure
uses a smaller incision than a traditional hip replacement. This may lead to less
pain and decreased recovery time. It is not yet clear if the procedure leads to a
greater risk of certain complications.
In some cases, you may have other surgical options, like total hip resurfacing. Talk
with your provider about the risks and benefits of all your options.
What are the risks of total hip replacement?
Most people do very well with their minimally invasive total hip replacement. But
as with any surgery, the procedure does carry some fairly rare risks. Possible complications
of this surgery include:
- Excess bleeding
- Blood clots
- Injury to nearby nerves
- Dislocation of the hip joint
- Having one leg that is a little shorter than the other
- Loosening of the hip joint
There is also a slight risk that the procedure might not get rid of your pain, or
that it might leave you with new pain. Your own risk of complications may vary according
to your age and your other medical conditions. Ask your provider about the risks that
most apply to you.
How do I get ready for total hip replacement?
Ask your provider how you should plan to get ready for your surgery.
Tell your provider about any medicines you are taking, including:
- All prescription medicines
- Over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen
- Street drugs
- Herbs, vitamins, and other supplements
Ask if there are any medicines you should stop taking ahead of time, like blood thinners.
If you smoke, try to quit before your surgery.
If you are overweight, your provider may advise you to try to lose weight before your
Don’t eat or drink after midnight the night before your procedure.
You may want to make some changes to your house, to make your recovery smoother. This
includes things like adding a handrail in your shower.
In some cases, your provider might want additional tests before you have your surgery.
These might include:
- X-rays, to get information about your hip
- MRI, to get more detailed information about your hip
- Electrocardiogram (ECG), to make sure your heart rhythm is normal
Follow any other instructions from your healthcare provider.
What happens during total hip replacement?
Your healthcare provider can help explain the details of your particular surgery.
The details of your hip replacement surgery will depend on the nature of the injury
and the surgical approach. An orthopedic surgeon and a team of specialized healthcare
professionals will perform the surgery. The whole procedure may take a few hours.
In general, you can expect the following:
- You will receive general or spinal anesthesia so that you’ll sleep through the surgery
and won’t feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure. (Or you may receive local
anesthesia and a medicine to relax you while keeping you awake.)
- A healthcare professional will carefully watch your vital signs, like your heart rate
and blood pressure, during the surgery.
- You may receive antibiotics, during and after the procedure, to help prevent infection.
- Your surgeon will make an incision over the outside of your hip, cutting through your
skin and muscle. Your surgeon may make 1 or 2 small incisions.
- Your surgeon will take your femoral head out of the hip joint socket. He or she will
remove your femoral head and replace it with a metal one.
- The damaged cartilage and bone that is lining the socket is removed.
- A metal cup is pushed into the socket and secured with screws.
- Your surgeon will place the femoral head into the new socket.
- The layers of skin and muscle of your incision will be closed.
What happens after total hip replacement?
Talk with your provider about what you can expect after your surgery. You may have significant pain
around your incision after your procedure, but pain medicines may help to relieve
your pain. You should be able to go back to a normal diet fairly quickly.
You may have imaging, like an X-ray, to be sure that your surgery was successful.
You might be able to go home within a day or two.
Your healthcare provider will let you know when you can put weight on your leg. You
may have specific instructions about limiting your movements. You might need to use
a cane, a walker, or crutches for a few days or weeks. A physical therapist can help
you maintain your range of motion and strength. You should be able to go back to most
light activities within a few weeks. During this time, you may find it helpful to
have some extra help at home.
You might have some fluid draining from your incision. This is normal during the first
few days after surgery. Let your provider know right away if you have increased redness,
swelling, or draining from your incision, high fever, chills, or severe pain. Also
let your provider know if your pain is not improving. Most people have an improvement
in their pain after their surgery.
Make sure to keep all of your follow-up appointments with your orthopedic surgeon,
and follow all your provider’s instructions. You may need to have your stitches or
staples removed a week or so after your surgery.
The mechanical parts of your hip may wear out or loosen over time. Because of this,
you may need a revision surgery 10 to 20 years after your original minimally invasive
total hip replacement. You may be able to extend the life of your implant by exercising
regularly and taking precautions to avoid falls.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
- The name of the test or procedure
- The reason you are having the test or procedure
- What results to expect and what they mean
- The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
- What the possible side effects or complications are
- When and where you are to have the test or procedure
- Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
- What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
- Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
- When and how will you get the results
- Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
- How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure