“If the primary job of the doctor is to ease suffering then all doctors should aim to be either a hip surgeon or a cataract surgeon.”
Hip pain often creeps up on us slowly, while occasionally it is more rapid. It is often due to osteoarthritis. In the past hip replacement surgery was often associated with the elderly but we are now seeing this not only in the 60 year old plus group of patients but also in younger people from mid 30s onwards – especially those who have been active and sporty.
A total hip replacement is the final treatment for a painful arthritic hip – it replaces the worn out ball and socket with a high-tech, biologically integrated prosthetic ball and socket joint with a ceramic-on-ceramic or ceramic-on-plastic bearing.
Last year in England and Wales over 76,000 hip replacements were performed. The National Joint Registry, which has now been running for 9 years in the UK and is the largest in the world, measures outcomes from all joint replacements and they tells us that average satisfaction rates with hip replacements are over 92% and 95% had less pain. We continually strive to improve upon this.
In the past hip replacement surgeries were big operations that involved long hospital stays and long periods of recovery but in the last 10 years there have been enormous advances.
These surgery technique advances have led to smaller incisions, muscle splitting approaches, less trauma, minimal blood loss, shorter operations, shorter hospital stays and lower complications in almost every regard.
Anaesthetic techniques have also improved that patients may have a local spinal anaesthetic (an injection near the spine numbs the lower half of the body) so they may stay awake or sleep during the hip replacement.
This is an operation that transforms lives which has, in itself, been transformed but despite the improvements in hip surgery complications can and do occur and it is important you go through all of these with your surgeon in detail.
What can you expect with a total hip replacement?
Surgery on the day of admission. Spinal or general anaesthetic. Surgical operating time less than one hour. Average incision of 10-14cm. Minimal blood loss <300ml. Mobilisation on day one and discharge home 2-4 days after surgery. 3-6 weeks on crutches and 6 weeks wearing the dreaded anti-DVT white stockings. 4-6 weeks off work and no long haul flights for 3 months.
Mr Hargrove works at Spire Clare Park and specialises in total hip replacement, hip arthroscopy and hip revision. He works as part of a highly dedicated multi-disciplinary team and his results from the National Joint Registry are available to all (just Google them!).
Mr Richard Hargrove MBBS, FRCS (Ire), FRCS (Tr&Orth), Diploma Sports Medicine
Consultant in Hip and Hip Revision Surgery