Hip replacement surgery is one of the most important surgical advances in modern medical history, and has one of the highest success rates of any procedure. Over 15,000 of these surgeries are completed each year in Australia and New Zealand alone.
As one of the body's primary load-bearing joints, the hip is prone to injury and degradation over time, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and trauma arthritis.
Hip replacement surgery involves replacing all or part of the damaged ball-and-socket joint with an artificial joint, with the goal of reducing pain, restoring mobility and generally improving joint function.
Hip replacement surgery, also known as hip arthroplasty, is recommended when other non-surgical treatments (e.g. physiotherapy and medication) have failed to yield satisfactory results.
Usually, conditions such as those listed below can be a sign that surgery should be considered by a hip surgeon:
Dr. Letchford will perform a physical examination, assess your medical history and use x-rays and scans to determine whether your condition warrants surgical treatment.
The decision to operate will come out of a balanced, objective assessment of the potential benefits and risks of this treatment path. And as you will be the one undergoing surgery, he will make every effort to ensure that you have the information needed to choose how to proceed.
Prior to making the choice to undertake a surgical treatment, you and Dr. Letchford will discuss:
You will only be recommended surgical treatment by Dr. Letchford if you both come to an agreement regarding the realistic chance of surgery improving your particular symptoms.
While every patient and operation is different, the general procedure for a hip replacement takes a few hours and will follow this general outline:
In-patient stay: Average 3-7 days
Walk (with stick): Within 2 weeks (ideally)
Walk (unaided): By 6 weeks (usually)
All surgery has potential risks; however Dr. Letchford will only proceed if you and he believe the benefits outweigh the risks.
Fortunately, hip replacement surgery has a low rate of severe complications in healthy patients. If you suffer from additional conditions, Dr. Letchford will work with you to determine whether your system is robust enough for an operation.
Some examples of possible complications, in descending order of likelihood, include infection, blood clots, wound or scar irritation, unequal leg length, increased pain, nerve damage, dislocation, failure of the joint, heart attack, stroke or death.
You can rest assured that everything possible will be done to minimise the possibility of complications or side effects developing.
Prior to your arrival at our premises for surgical treatment, you and Dr. Letchford will need to take some actions to make your pre and post-surgery experiences as smooth as possible.
After your surgery, try to take things slowly. Use a walking aid and try to avoid stairs. Try not to cross your legs, turn your feet strongly inwards or outwards, or bend your hips more than 90 degrees. You may also be advised to sleep with a pillow between your legs.
Keeping your wound dry and well dressed is very important. Make sure you change your dressing as instructed, and keep an eye out for any changes, including fever, chills, tenderness, excessive fluid, or increased pain.
Our team will give you pressure bandages and anti-clotting medication to minimise the likelihood that blood clots will form. Contact a doctor immediately if you experience any unexplained pain or shortness of breath post-surgery.
It’s possible that your appetite may lessen post-surgery. Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and maintaining high fluid intake will give your body the best possible chance of recovering quickly.
You will be appointed a physiotherapist who will help you to understand what kinds of exercises you need to do to regain strength and mobility, and explain what you can and can't do with your new hip. It is important that you ease yourself back into light daily activity as soon as you can.
If you require more information on what you can expect from a hip replacement surgical treatment from a hip surgeon on the Gold Coast, feel free to visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website and consult their resources.