Your orthopedic surgeon will explain the potential risks and complications of hip replacement surgery, including those related to the surgery itself and those that can occur over time after your surgery. The orthopedic evaluation will typically include:
- A medical history, in which your orthopedic surgeon gathers information about your general health and asks questions about the extent of your hip pain and how it affects your ability to perform every day activities.
- A physical examination to assess hip mobility, strength, and alignment.
- X-rays (radiographs) to determine the extent of damage or deformity in your hip.
- Occasionally, blood tests or other tests such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging or bone scanning may be needed to determine the condition of the bone and soft tissues of your hip.
If you decide to have hip replacement surgery, you may be asked to have a complete physical examination by your primary care doctor before your surgical procedure. This is needed to assess your health and identify conditions that can interfere with your surgery or recovery.
Several tests may be needed to help plan your surgery: blood and urine samples may be tested and a cardiogram and chest x-rays (radiographs) may be obtained.
Preparing Your Skin
Your skin should not have any infections or irritations before surgery. If either is present, contact your orthopedic surgeon for a program to improve your skin before surgery.
You may be advised to donate your own blood prior to surgery. It will be stored in the event you need blood after surgery.
Tell your orthopedic surgeon about the medications you are taking. Your orthopedist or your primary care doctor will advise you which medications you should stop or can continue taking before surgery.
If you are overweight, your doctor may ask you to lose some weight before surgery to minimize the stress on your new hip and possibly decrease the risks of surgery
Although infections after hip replacement are not common, an infection can occur if bacteria enter your bloodstream. Because bacteria can enter the bloodstream during dental procedures, you should consider getting treatment for significant dental diseases (including tooth extractions and periodontal work) before your hip replacement surgery. Routine cleaning of your teeth should be delayed for several weeks after surgery.
Individuals with a history of recent or frequent urinary infections and older men with prostate disease should consider a urological evaluation before surgery.
Although you will be able to walk with crutches or a walker soon after surgery, you will need some help for several weeks with such tasks as cooking, shopping, bathing, and laundry. If you live alone, your orthopedic surgeon's office, a social worker, or a discharge planner at the hospital can help you make advance arrangements to have someone assist you at your home. A short stay in an extended-care facility during your recovery after surgery also may be arranged.
An important factor in deciding whether to have hip replacement surgery is understanding what the procedure can and cannot do.
Most people who undergo hip replacement surgery experience a dramatic reduction of hip pain and a significant improvement in their ability to perform the common activities of daily living. However, hip replacement surgery will not enable you to do more than you could before your hip problem developed.
Following surgery, you will be advised to avoid certain activities, including jogging and high-impact sports, for the rest of your life. You may be asked to avoid specific positions of the joint that could lead to dislocation.
Even with normal use and activities, an artificial joint (prosthesis) develops some wear over time. If you participate in high-impact activities or are overweight, this wear may accelerate and cause the prosthesis to loosen and become painful.