Hip Replacement: Before Your Surgery

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What is hip replacement surgery?

Hip replacement surgery uses metal, ceramic, or plastic parts to replace the ball at the upper end of the thigh bone (femur). This surgery also smooths the hip socket in the pelvic bone. Your doctor will make a 15- to 25-centimetre cut on the side of your hip to do this. This cut is called an incision. The surgery can also be done with one or two smaller incisions. The incisions in both types of surgery leave scars that will fade with time.

You will likely stay in the hospital for 2 to 7 days after your surgery. Your rehabilitation program (rehab) starts when you are still in the hospital. You will do rehab for 6 months or more. It takes at least 3 months to return to full activity. This will depend on your condition and rehab program. Most people can go back to work in 4 weeks to 4 months. This depends on your condition and the type of job you have.

After surgery and rehab, you likely will have much less pain than before the surgery. You should be able to return to your normal routine. Your doctor may suggest that you avoid heavy activities, such as playing tennis or jogging. He or she may tell you not to do things where a fall may happen. For example, don't ride a horse or go skiing. You may have to take antibiotics before you have dental work or a medical procedure. This helps reduce the chance that your new hip will become infected. Always tell your caregivers that you have an artificial hip.

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 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.

What happens before surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will get antibiotics through the IV tube before surgery. This lowers the risk of an infection.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery usually takes 1 to 3 hours.

Going home

  • You may be taken to a short-term rehabilitation centre after you leave the hospital. If not, you need to be careful when you leave the hospital. Be sure your car has high seats. You might want to ride in the backseat, so you can stretch out your leg on the car seat.
  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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