Hundreds of thousands of hip replacement surgeries are performed in the United States each year, and they are highly successful in eliminating pain, restoring mobility and improving quality of life. If a hip replacement is properly done, over 95% of hip replacements will last at least 15 years.
However, problems do occur with hip replacements. When the implant wears out or another problem develops, people often need a second “revision” surgery in which the existing implant or components are taken out and replaced. Our surgeons are all fellowship trained in joint replacement and have the expertise and knowledge necessary to evaluate and treat failed or problematic hip replacements. If you have a hip replacement that needs evaluation, we are happy to assist and provide treatment recommendations.
What are the common reasons for revision hip replacement?
- Loosening of the implant – the hip replacement may become painful after many years because the components have begun to wear and loosen.
- Fracture – a fall or severe blow can cause a fracture of the bone near the hip replacement that may require a revision of the hip replacement and/or or operative fixation of the fracture.
- Infection – this can be a very serious complication. If a deep infection develops in a hip replacement, revision is often needed to eradicate the infection and to implant new non-infected components.
- Dislocation – for a variety of reason a hip replacement can become unstable, meaning that the ball and socket become dislocated. If this is a recurrent problem, it may require a revision surgery to make the replacement more stable and prevent future dislocations.
- Implant recall – on occasion, the implant used in joint replacement is found to have a problem. As a result, patients with a recalled implant should be closely monitored by their surgeon to evaluate if the recalled implant is causing a problem. Revision surgery is sometimes necessary when an implant is recalled.
Be aware of warning signs that there may be a problem, such as pain that comes on suddenly, trouble walking, a sensation that the hip replacement is loose or unstable, or changes in the wound appearance.
A revision joint replacement is more complicated than the initial operation and many physicians who perform primary joint replacements will refer their patients to our revision surgery experts.
How can you make the replacement last longer?
- We advise patients to avoid high impact activity such as running and singles tennis, which can shorten the lifespan of the joint replacement. Walking or biking for exercise is better than running, and opt for doubles instead of singles tennis.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight, especially obese, is a main factor in developing arthritis in the first place. People who are overweight are more likely to experience loosening of an implant.
- Once the initial healing has taken place and discomfort has diminished, see your orthopedic surgeon if pain develops suddenly. Do not wait to have a problem evaluated.
- If you develop a bacterial infection in another part of your body after joint replacement, be sure to see your medical doctor for appropriate antibiotics.
- Pay a visit to your orthopedic surgeon every few years after hip replacement, even if the joint feels good. The physician can check for early loosening of the implant or another minor problem before it causes a major headache, such as dislocation.
- Have your primary hip replacement with an experienced surgeon who specializes in the procedure and at a center that performs a high number of joint replacements to ensure the best outcome and lower the risk of complications.
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