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What Goes in, What Comes out in Hip Replacement: December 7, 2011

Hip replacements are among the most common joint replacement surgeries performed in this country. Before your doctor tells you that you’re a candidate, you’ve probably heard the warning signs coming from your hip.

“One of the first things we see is limitation in motion which makes it difficult to get in and out of a car, up and down from a chair,” says Dr. John Kagan, an orthopedic surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

The most common cause for a total hip replacement is arthritis, meaning the joint is worn out.

“We use a hip replacement for people who have an arthritic hip and that can be from a number of different causes. It can be from athletic injuries, it can be from a fracture, or it can just be from osteoarthritis or any of the inflammatory arthritis conditions,” says Dr. Kagan.

Patients are familiar with their aches and pains, but may be less clear about what goes on during replacement surgery.

“A hip replacement is when we actually remove the joint, that is remove the femoral ball, and grind out the worn out socket and replace the ball and socket with metal and plastic components,” says Dr. Kagan.

The new joint is basically a metal stem with a ball on top. Surgeons put it in the center of the patient’s leg bone. In the thirty-plus years it’s been performed, hip replacement surgery continues to evolve.

“There are various designs of hip replacements that have to do with the stem primarily and the way the stem is seated. Most often now we don’t cement hip prostheses. They’re all biological in growth, biological in growth means your bone actually grows into the prosthesis and fixes it,” says Dr. Kagan.

Most hip patients are kept in the hospital for about three days, then undergo several weeks of physical therapy. How fast a patient heals depends on their health and motivation.