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Total Hip Replacement Surgery

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition whereby joint cartilage is destroyed. The commonest type is osteoarthritis, which may be the result of previous joint injury or subtle mismatch between the ball and socket of the hip from birth. Idiopathic osteoarthritis is a term we apply to osteoarthritis of indeterminate origin. Another big subset of arthritis is that caused by conditions associated with inflammation within the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is the commonest of these conditions. Other causes of inflammatory arthritis include gout and systemic lupus erythematosus. Occasionally arthritis happens as a consequence of death of the ball of the hip joint due to lack of blood supply, a condition referred to by the medical term Osteonecrosis.

You may be a candidate for total hip replacement surgery if you have advanced arthritis of the hip with debilitating pain and you are not coping with activities that ordinarily form part of your daily routine. Your family doctor or other health care professional may have already suggested that you need hip replacement surgery. A brief interview followed by examination and review of your radiographs will help determine whether you are a candidate for hip replacement surgery. You will learn about the risks and benefits of the procedure and once you are ready, surgery will be scheduled at a convenient time.

What is a Total Hip Replacement?

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint consisting of a femoral head (ball) and the acetabular cup (socket). Total hip replacement is a surgical procedure where the diseased hip joint is replaced with artificial parts. The top part of the femur is resected and replaced with a metal alloy part that is inserted into the bone. A head made of either a metal alloy or ceramic is then attached. The socket is roughened and shaped with special instruments to accept a metal cup into which is inserted a liner made of either polyethylene (hardened plastic) or ceramic. The head is then located in the liner of the cup completing the procedure. The actual surgery takes just over an hour but the entire process of administering anesthetic, doing the surgery and waking you up thereafter takes approximately two and a half hours. Please be aware that hip replacement surgery is a major surgical procedure.

Arthritic Femoral Head

Femoral Head with severely worn cartilage

Normal Femoral Head

Normal femoral head - Ball part of ball and socket hip joint

Radiograph Hip Replacement

Radiograph showing a replaced hip on the right and advanced osteoarthritis of the left hip




What to bring to hospital

Expect to be in hospital for five to ten days. Please bring along a change of underwear, night clothes and comfortable loose fitting day clothes like track suit pants, slip on shoes and trainers (takkies). Other essential items include a small bag of toiletries, and reading material.

Free WIFI is available for inpatients in the hospital and there are personal television sets where you can access a select number of channels. Do not forget to bring along your regular walking aid and medication that you normally take.

If you use spectacles, a hearing aid or dentures, you should also bring these items with you. Please do not bring expensive jewelry and mountains of cash. The hospital provides security boxes for personal items with only limited liability

tooth brush

What to expect in hospital

Post-op Information/Expectations

Dos and Donts following Total Hip Replacement Surgery