Hip replacement risks and complications
What are the main hip replacement risks and complications?
As with any surgery, there are risks and complications that can occur with a hip replacement. It is very important that you are aware of these and are able to weigh up these risks with the benefits before you choose to go ahead with the treatment. This page outlines the main hip replacement risks and complications. You should read these carefully and take a while to think about them when deciding if a this procedure is suitable for you.
Bruising & bleeding
Some bruising is common after surgery. This should resolve over the first couple of weeks. You may also experience some minor bleeding from the incision site. This often occurs right after surgery but may occur a few weeks later. However, if you notice significant bruising, pain, or swelling, please inform your surgeon straight away. It is possible that you may have a haematoma, which is a solid collection of blood under the skin. These often develop within 24 hours of surgery and require medical attention. You may be more at risk if you are male, have high blood pressure, or take certain medications.
Although every effort is made to reduce the risk of infection, it is still possible for one to develop. An infected artificial joint must be treated quickly and may require surgical removal if it becomes severe. You must therefore be aware of the signs of infection. Contact your surgeon right away if you notice any of the following signs:
- Feeling feverish with a temperature over 38° C.
- Redness at the incision site that is spreading after the first 48 hours.
- Yellow pus-like or foul-smelling fluid seeping from the incision.
- Increased pain or discomfort that your pain medication does not resolve.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to avoid scarring where the surgeon has made incisions. The size and location of the scars will vary slightly according to the technique your surgeon uses. Usually, you will have one or two scars around your hip. Make sure you ask your surgeon to explain where your final scars will be. Remember that scars will also fade with time. How much they fade will depend on the healing ability of your skin. Your surgeon can also give you some tips on how to care for your wounds and to reduce the scarring that you are left with.
Sometimes the skin where the surgeon has operated on can change colour slightly after the surgery. This should settle over a few months as the area heals.
If, during your surgery, the nerves in your hip or pelvis are injured, you may lose some feeling or movement in your leg. This is rare and in most cases, temporary. However, even more rarely, more long-term loss of sensation or movement can occur. At Medbelle, we only work with highly skilled and qualified surgeons. This means that you will be at less risk of this occurring.
It is possible for the artificial joint to become dislocated. Although uncommon, this may affect the result of the surgery. When it does occur, displacement of the implant tends to happen 6 to 8 weeks after the surgery. It often only happens once. If it happens more than once, surgery may be needed to re-stabilise the joint. To lower the risk of hip dislocation, avoid crossing your legs or fully bending your hip. For example, avoid sitting cross-legged and bending forwards when in a seated position.
Difference in leg length
After a joint replacement of any type, there is always the possibility that there may be some mismatch between your natural joint and the prosthetic one. In the case of hip replacement procedures, this appears as slightly different leg lengths after the surgery. To ensure that you are happy with the final results, you should talk openly with your surgeon during your consultation to make sure that they understand your expectations. Your surgeon will consider this when planning their approach to minimise any difference in leg length. Even if this is a problem, it is correctable with special shoes or an insole that fits inside your existing shoes to even out your legs.
General surgical complications
All surgeries carry some common risks. These include the development of blood clots, nausea and vomiting, and postoperative pain. As the surgery involves the use of an anaesthetic agent, it is also possible that you may develop complications relating to the anaesthetic itself.
It is vital that you follow your surgeon’s specific aftercare instructions to reduce the risk of these complications occurring.