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Learning About Partial Hip Replacement Surgery

Normal hip and partial hip replacement

What is partial hip replacement?

During partial hip replacement surgery, your doctor replaces the ball of your hip joint, but not the socket. The artificial part is made of metal, ceramic, or plastic.

This type of surgery is done to repair certain types of hip fractures.

How is partial hip replacement done?

For open hip replacement surgery, your doctor makes a 15- to 25-centimetre cut (incision) on the side of your hip. You will be asleep during the surgery. Your doctor will then:

  • Remove the damaged bone tissue and cartilage from the hip joint.
  • Replace the ball at the upper end of your thigh bone (femur).

Hip replacement can also be done with one or two smaller incisions. This is called minimally invasive surgery.

Surgery may take 1 to 3 hours.

What can you expect after partial hip replacement?

Your doctor will let you know whether you will stay in the hospital or if you can go home the day of surgery. Your rehabilitation program (rehab) will start before you leave the hospital.

When you go home, you will be able to move around with crutches or a walker. But you will need someone to help you at home for the next few weeks until your energy returns and you can move around better. If you need more extensive rehab, you may go to a specialized rehab centre for more treatment.

  • You will slowly return to most of your activities.
    • You will probably have a short stay in the hospital, but some people go home the day of surgery.
    • You may need physiotherapy for several weeks.
    • You may be able to walk without crutches or a walker in 4 to 6 weeks.
    • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
    • You may be able to go back to work in 4 weeks to 4 months. It depends on your job.
    • Your doctor will tell you when you can swim, dance, golf, or bicycle. Ask your doctor about other activities you would like to do.
    • Your doctor may tell you to avoid some activities from now on. These may include running, tennis, horseback riding, or skiing.
    • For most people it is safe to have sex about 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery.
  • You may have to take antibiotics before dental work or other medical procedures. This will help prevent infection around your new hip.

You will be in a rehab program. Rehab helps you get better faster.

  • Your rehab may start before surgery. Rehab exercises can help get the hip ready for surgery. And they can make your recovery faster.
  • After surgery, your physiotherapist will get you started and teach you exercises. Then you will do them on your own.
  • Rehab often lasts 6 months or more. It is not easy, and it takes time. Many people say that it is like "having a second job."

If you commit to your rehab and work hard, you will see a lot of improvement in a few months.

Many artificial hip joints last for 10 to 20 years. It depends on your age, how much stress you put on the joint, and how well your new joint and bones mend. Your weight can make a difference. Every extra kilogram of body weight adds 3 kilograms of stress to your new hip joint. More weight may cause it to wear out sooner.

Your doctor may want to see you about once a year to see how you and your new hip are doing.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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