Hip prosthesis

A hip prosthesis or an artificial hip joint is used in patients with hip osteoarthritis if conservative treatment options have been exhausted. The modern implants made of titanium are well tolerated and have a long service life.

Hip osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the hip joint. In the process, the cartilage which protects the joint socket and the joint head is damaged or completely removed. This means that bone rubs on bone in the joint. The reasons for this can be genetic, overstraining the joint during sport or work as well as long-term deterioration due to old age. However, there are often no actual causes found.

Hip osteoarthritis is initially treated conservatively. Surgery comes to the fore if the options in this area have been exhausted and the arthritis worsens nonetheless. If the patient has extensive osteoarthritis, they often decide to undergo surgery due to severe pain and extremely limited mobility.

What preparations are carried out before the procedure?

The severity of the hip osteoarthritis is displayed with an x-ray examination, as well as a CT and an MRI. Before the operation, the hip joint is measured precisely using radiological imaging to select the suitable hip prosthesis.

All the usual pre-operative assessments are required, such as a blood test, blood pressure measurement and an ECG. The patient must stop taking blood-thinning medication and have an empty stomach for the procedure.

How is the operation carried out?

Depending on the situation, the procedure takes place under general anaesthesia or spinal anaesthesia. The procedure is carried out as gently as possible with a minimal invasive procedure. Where possible, muscles are not severed and only pushed to the side. After the hip joint is accessed, it is dislocated and the femoral head is firstly removed. Then the hip joint socket is shaped. Afterwards, an artificial hip joint made of titanium is used. Firstly, the socket is inserted into the pelvic bone and then the shaft is anchored in the femur with the head. Finally, the artificial hip joint is set in. The stability is checked and the surgical wound is closed. The procedure takes one to two hours.

What is the success rate of this procedure?

A hip prosthesis is a tried and tested method of treating advanced hip osteoarthritis is a tried and tested treatment method with very good success rates.

What are the possible complications and risks of this procedure?

Hip joint replacement is one of the most common types of surgery and generally proceeds without complications. As with all surgery, the operation may occasionally lead to infections, nerve damage, post-operative haemorrhaging or blood clots. The modern prostheses have a very long shelf life. Ninety per cent of artificial hip joints still work perfectly after fifteen to twenty years. Nevertheless, the implant may loosen prematurely sometimes.

What happens after the operation?

After a recovery phase with monitoring and transfer to a ward room, mobilisation is begun early. The patient can put weight on the hip joint from the start. As early as just a few hours after the operation, you can take initial steps with the help of a physiotherapist.

You will learn different muscle-building exercises during the four- to five-day hospital stay. Walking or climbing the stairs without crutches are also part of the training programme. The fit of the hip prosthesis is checked by x-ray before the patient is discharged.

You will continue the training exercises at home. You must take care not to fall over, so crutches are recommended for a certain time.

You will undergo a follow-up examination approx. eight weeks after the operation. You can take up light physical work once more four to six weeks after the operation. You will be unable to work for between two and three months if your job involves medium to heavy physical work. 

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