Surgery to Repair a Hip Fracture: Before Your Surgery

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A hip and two types of hip fractures

What is surgery to repair a hip fracture?

Surgery for a hip fracture repairs a broken hip bone. Broken hips are often caused by a fall or other injury. Some kinds of broken bones heal on their own in a cast. But a broken hip is not likely to heal well without surgery.

The doctor makes one or two cuts over the broken bone in your hip. These cuts are called incisions. Then the doctor moves the pieces of bone back into the right position. The doctor uses metal pins, screws, rods, or plates to hold the pieces together while the bone heals. During the surgery, the doctor may use X-rays to see if the pins and plate are in the correct place. After the pieces of bone are lined up, the doctor stitches or staples the incision closed. The incisions leave scars that fade with time.

You will probably stay in the hospital for 2 to 4 days. Your rehabilitation program (rehab) starts when you are still in the hospital. It continues for 6 months or more after surgery. It will take at least 3 months before you can go back to your regular activities. How much time you need will depend on your condition and rehab program.

If you don't have someone to help you at home, you may go from the hospital to a short-term rehabilitation centre or a long-term care centre. For several months, you may need the help of a walker or crutches. After that, you may need to walk with a cane.

Rehab can help you recover more quickly, but it may take 6 months to 1 year for you to fully recover. Some people, especially older people, are never able to move quite as well as they used to. 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.

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.

What happens before surgery?

Preparing for surgery

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    Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines, including natural health products, such as vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
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    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.
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    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.
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    If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. 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.

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

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.
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    Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
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    Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
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    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.
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    The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
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    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.
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    The surgery will take 2 to 4 hours.

Going home

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    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.
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    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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