01 dvd thr complications information sheet 2006 final
RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS
TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT
RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS - TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT
(1) ANAESTHETIC AND MEDICAL:
(2) BLOOD TRANSFUSION:
1. Superficial Wound Infection
2. Deep Infection
(4) WOUND AND LEG PROBLEMS:
1. Wound Haematoma:
2. Tender Scar and Trochanteric Bursitis:
3. Leg Swelling:
4. Groin Aches:
6. Leg Length Difference:
7. Referred pain:
(6) OTHER COMPLICATIONS:
2. Chest Infection:
3. Urinary Retention:
5. Nerve and Artery damage:
(6) HOW LONG WILL MY HIP REPLACEMENT LAST:
POTENTIAL RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS
TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT
This sheet provides you with information concerning the most important risks and complications
associated with having a total hip replacement.
A hip replacement is an extremely successful operation. At least 95% of patients are satisfied
with their new hip
. It is very effective in getting rid of the pain experienced as a result of
osteoarthritis or other degenerative hip problems. It improves the range of hip movement and
allows you to return to a nearly normal level of activity.
As with anything in life there is always a possibility of problems or unexpected events occurring.
For example, even crossing the road or a car journey has inherent risks but this does not deter
you providing you take reasonable precautions. This is also true of any major operation such as
The list of risks provided here is not intended to frighten you, but for your information. It covers
most of the problems, both major and minor, but it is not comprehensive.
(1) ANAESTHETIC AND MEDICAL
The type of anaesthetic needed for a hip replacement may be either a general anaesthetic, an
epidural or spinal anaesthetic
(an injection into or around the spinal canal) and / or a nerve
(to numb the nerves around the hip).
For further information on this please print out the ‘
Any anaesthetic and major operation carries a very small increased risk of being complicated by
1. a Heart Attack
2. a Stroke
3. a Deep Vein Thrombosis
(blood clot in the leg)
4. a Pulmonary Embolus
(blood clot in the lung)
We will make sure you are medically fit for your operation and measures will be used to reduce
(2) BLOOD TRANSFUSION
During and after the operation you will lose some blood. The blood you lose will usually be
made up by your own body in the weeks after surgery.
A blood transfusion is rarely necessary these days. Blood needed for a transfusion is always
tested and matched to your own but still carries very small risks associated with it such as :-
1. Rejection and reaction to the donor blood
2. Transmission of infection
An infection can occur after any operation but it is particularly important that you understand its
consequences when undergoing a total hip replacement.
Precautions are taken before the operation to prevent an infection including nasal swabs and
ensuring that there is no damage to your skin with cuts, wounds or infections.
Prophylactic antibiotics (to reduce the risk of infection at the time of the surgery) are routinely
Superficial Wound Infection
This is an infection of the healing wound where it is red and may have a small
discharge. It is usually treated with a course of antibiotics but occasionally it may
require a further small operation to help clear it.
There is a risk of an infection with bacteria getting around the hip replacement at the time
The risk of a Deep Infection is about 1% (i.e.1 in every 100 cases).
This is a very serious complication
. If a deep infection occurs it may necessitate the hip
replacement being removed so that the antibiotics can then work more effectively. This
can mean a prolonged period in hospital before a further hip replacement is reinserted.
Very occasionally a further hip replacement is not possible and we have to leave the
patient without a hip replacement. These patients can normally walk short distances often
without the use of crutches; a pronounced limp however is inevitable. This is called a
and used to be the treatment for severe pain and arthritis before
(4) WOUND AND LEG PROBLEMS
Bruising can develop around the wound and this can track down towards the knee. This
is usually not a problem and will resolve over a few weeks.
Occasionally a more significant bruise (haematoma) occurs under the wound and this
can delay the healing. An operation may be required to release this blood collection.
This is more likely to happen if you are taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication
(eg. Ibuprofen, Voltarol). Please inform us at the pre-assessment consultation if you
taking this type of medication. Usually by stopping it for a week before your operation,
Tender Scar and Trochanteric Bursitis
Some people have discomfort around their scar. Very occasionally it persists and is
called trochanteric bursitis. Usually measures such as physiotherapy and time will help
Leg swelling is quite common after the operation. It tends to improve each night with
the rest and elevation. If it is worsening or becomes painful then you should seek advice
as one of the causes of this swelling is a deep vein thrombosis. Usually there is no main
underlying problem. The vast majority of this swelling settles over a 2 to 3 month
period and does not cause any long-term problems
Minor aches and pains are usual. It must be remembered that the painful arthritic hip
has not been used properly for a long time and your muscles are thus weak prior to the
surgery. You will be exercising your new hip and most people experience some aches
and pains for a few months while their muscle strength is building up again.
This is common initially as your muscles recover from the surgery but improves and
usually disappears once the muscles have regained their strength.
Very occasionally a nerve is bruised or damaged and the limp will be permanent. The
risk is dependant on the type of approach your surgeon makes to replace your hip but
can be at least 1% (1 in 100 cases).
Leg Length Difference
Almost everybody, even if they do not have hip problems, has a slight different in our
leg lengths. Although we try and ensure that your leg lengths are the same during the
operation occasionally, for technical reasons, this is not possible.
Most people will initially feel that one leg is longer or shorter than the other after the
operation. Contractures of the hip joint caused by the arthritis are released at surgery,
thereby lengthening the leg back to normal. That feeling disappears within a few weeks.
Even if there is a definite leg length difference, most people will tolerate a difference of
up to ½ inch and over a period of a few months cease to notice it. Occasionally a small
shoe raise is necessary after surgery if the feeling of a difference in the leg length is
If you have a back problem or a knee problem, as well as your hip problem, then pain
from these two areas can be felt as if it is in the groin area. If you do experience any
discomfort or pain in your hip or groin after the operation you should inform your
surgeon or GP so that the cause of it can be investigated.
Risk of Dislocation - about 2-3%
(2 to 3 in every 100 cases).
A dislocation is when the ball of a hip replacement pops out of its joint. The risk is
dependant on the type of approach your surgeon makes to replace your hip but can be at
A dislocation can occur at any time
after your hip replacement but is most likely to
occur during the first 6 weeks while all the muscles and tissues are healing. After the
first 6 weeks the risk of dislocation is less likely.
To prevent a dislocation you are given very specific instructions as to how you should
ts. There are slight restrictions in terms of how you
pick things up off the ground or reach your feet. The things you will not be able to do
are squat down or bring your knees up to your chest. You need to follow these
instructions very carefully. This is unlikely to restrict your activities significantly. In
general you will be able to undertake all normal activities apart from activities that give a
lot of impact to the hip such as running.
Ladies have to be generally more careful because socially they sit and pick things up in a
slightly different way from men. They have to learn a different way of doing these
If you follow the guidelines then a dislocation is unlikely to occur.
(6) OTHER COMPLICATIONS
If you are aware of an allergy to anything (causing swelling, a rash or difficulty
breathing) please let us know at the pre-assessment consultation.
Occasionally people have allergies to some of the medications (eg antibiotics) and
material (eg metal) we use for the hip replacements. We test people for the common
allergies such as iodine or Elastoplast.
After any general anaesthetic there is a very small chance of developing a chest
infection. This is usually treated with antibiotics and breathing exercises.
Some patients find they are unable to pass urine for several hours after having major
surgery. If this occurs causing stretching of the bladder or pain then you may require
the insertion of a catheter. In most cases we can then remove the catheter a day or two
This is very rarely a problem in ladies. It is more common in men who have developed
an enlarged prostate. If you feel you have symptoms such as having difficulty in passing
water, especially having to get up frequently at night, please let us know before your
operation. If necessary a referral to see a urologist will be arranged.
Very occasionally during the operation the bone may break. The break will normally be
fixed at the time of your surgery. Postoperatively you may be able to mobilize normally, but you
may be asked to use crutches for a period of time. Very rarely the fracture may be treated with a
Nerve and Artery damage
Very very rarely damage to a major nerve or artery can occur at the time of surgery.
(7) HOW LONG WILL MY HIP REPLACEMENT LAST
Research shows that up to 95% of hip replacements are lasting 10 years without problems.
Hip replacements do not last forever
. They have the potential to wear out as does any piece of
mechanical machinery. If your hip replacement does wear out or becomes loose and painful it
can be replaced in the vast majority of cases. This is called a revision hip replacement and is a
much bigger and more difficult operation than the first hip replacement.
There are many different types of Hip Replacement –For further information on this please print
Types of Hip Replacement and Bearing Surfaces.
This is for your information to help you understand more about a hip replacement. It is certainly
not intended to put you off having surgery or to unnecessarily worry or frighten you. In general
a total hip replacement is an extremely successful pain-relieving, mobility restoring procedure.
Many people who have total hip replacements return to a near normal life with very few
restrictions. Sports including swimming, cycling, walking, doubles tennis are possible again.
However patients need to be aware that occasionally things do not go quite as planned. In
making up your mind that you wish to have the operation you must be aware of the risks so that
you balance them against the benefits of the operation. The time for a hip replacement is when
for you, the benefit of the relief of your hip pain makes the potential risks acceptable to you.
As stated at the beginning of this Information Sheet, this is not an absolutely comprehensive list
of all the problems, but covers the vast majority that might be encountered following a total hip
If you have any concerns or worries or would like further information about any of
these problems or the ultimate success of the surgery please do not hesitate to ask
your surgeon or a member of their team.
National Joint Registry (NJR) Websitehttp://www.njrcentre.org.uk/
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Websitehttp://www.niceguidance.org.uk/
British Orthopaedic Association Websitehttp://www.boa.ac.uk/
North Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Vulnerable patients with a fractured neck of femur:nutritional status and support in hospitalM. Nematy,* M. Hickson,* A.E. Brynes,* C.H.S. Ruxton & G.S. Frost**Nutrition and Dietetic Research Group, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospitals Trust, London W12 0HS, UK; Schoolof Biosciences, University of Westminster, London W1W 6UW, UKMalnutrition has serious consequences forrecover
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