If you’re due to have a hip replacement – here’s what you need to know …
Let’s face it, being told you need to undergo a hip replacement procedure isn’t exactly good news! However, for about 160,000 people in the UK each year – booking in for a ‘hip op’ is a necessary task.
Unfortunately, the procedure is often associated with very invasive/painful techniques, weeks in bed, and a ‘one size fits all’ approach by Doctors. This naturally leads many to feel anxious about the prospect of joint replacement.. Patients tend to worry about the impact it will have on their day to day lives. Historically hip replacement operations have had a reputation for being very uncomfortable. Today however, there are several advanced treatment techniques which offer a much more tailored, minimally invasive experience for patients.
Mr Panos Gikas, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at The Lister Hospital believes it’s very important that everyone understands hip replacement surgery. Patients need to recognise there are different options available. With this in mind, we asked Mr Gikas to talk through some of the key facts all prospective hip replacement patients need to know. Hopefully this will dispel some of the most common myths . Also patients can find out what happens before, during, and following their surgery.
Is There a Typical Hip Replacement Patient?
“People most commonly associate hip replacement surgery with old age and arthritis. However, whilst it is true that the majority of patients are of advancing years, joint replacement surgery can also be necessary for younger age groups as the result of sporting injury or over usage.
In the UK, most patients who undergo hip replacement are over the age of 60. However, it is also not uncommon for those in their 40s and 50s to need surgery too depending on their background. We sometimes treat patients who are even younger than this.”
Is It The Same Technique For Every Patient?
Today, Doctors use several different techniques for hip replacement. These include robotic techniques, custom-made prosthetics, biological techniques, and minimally invasive techniques which may significantly speed up recovery times. Our knowledge and understanding around the topic have moved on a lot and technology in this space has also advanced significantl
This is such an advantage for patients as it means they can carefully research and identify which surgeon & technique is going to be best for them as an individual. It provides an element of choice which historically patients haven’t had.
One of the most effective techniques, in terms of speed of recovery and minimal pain, is anterior hip surgery. The anterior approach involves accessing the hip joint from the front of the hip. This avoids the need to cut through the muscles around the hip. So patients are able to get up and start walking much quicker than in other approaches to the hip.
This means less pain for the patient, and a quicker discharge from hospital.. It also means that they’ll be back walking more quickly. And there is no risk of dislocation or any limitations/precautions post-operatively. Implants may be custom templated before surgery to ensure the optimum fit with minimal bone loss and improved range of movement afterwards.
This technique is very popular across many parts of Europe and the rest of the world however, in the UK it is still relatively new.
How Long Does Hip Replacement Surgery Take?
Typically, a traditional hip replacement operation will take 60-90 mins with patients going under general anaesthetic for the procedure. In experienced hands an anterior hip replacement may take as little as 50 minutes to complete. Increasingly it can be done with a spinal anaesthetic to numb the leg, instead of general anaesthetic. This means patients can be awake during surgery and so can be up and mobile very quickly after surgery, once the spinal anaesthetic has worn off.
How Long Do You Have To Stay In Hospital After A Hip Op?
The length of hospital stay for hip replacement patients will vary depending on the technique used. With a traditional posterior operation, patients may need to stay in hospital for anywhere between 3-10 days. This obviously depends on their recovery. However, with the anterior approach patient’s stay in hospital is significantly less. The average length of stay is between 48-72 hrs.. In some cases patients have gone home as quickly as day 1 after surgery.
How Long Does It Take To Get Back To Normal After A Hip Replacement Operation?
This will vary from patient to patient depending on the patient’s specific circumstances and the type of surgery. However, across the board the primary goal for healthcare professionals is to get patients up and walking again asap. If patients undergo a minimally invasive procedure like anterior hip surgery some people will be able to walk on the same day as their procedure, or the day after.
It’s important for patients to recognise that, whatever type of surgery they have had, they will feel tired and uncomfortable to begin with. When they first start to walk again, the body has to get used to their new hip joint and heal. However, physiotherapy is very beneficial and enables patients to learn exercises to get themselves moving more comfortably again and get back to normal life as quickly as possible.
We anticipate that patients who have anterior hip surgery will be ‘back to normal’ within 2-4 weeks. This includes driving, going to work, and carrying out your usual day to day activities. For other traditional techniques this can take anywhere from 6-12 weeks. This is because of precautions that need to be observed postoperatively to reduce the risk of dislocation which the traditional techniques carry.
For more information see The Lister Hospital HCA Healthcare Group UK