What happens during hip replacement surgery?

Hip replacement surgery, also called total hip arthroplasty, is a common orthopedic procedure that involves replacing a damaged hip joint with an artificial joint implant. You may consider getting a hip replacement if your hip pain keeps you from doing normal daily activities and nonsurgical treatments aren’t helping. The most common reason to get a total hip replacement is arthritis damage to the hip joint. 

It’s normal to have concerns before any major surgery, even when you’re sure that it’s the best option. Read on for a breakdown of what you can expect from your hip surgery, from the moment you check in to the hospital to when you return home.

(Check out our post on your hip surgery recovery timeline for what you can expect in the days, weeks, and months after your procedure.)

What happens on the day of your total hip replacement?

On the day of your surgery, you’ll check in to the hospital at a scheduled time. Then, you’ll go to your room to take off your regular clothes and put on a hospital gown. Once you’re ready, an anesthesiologist will come in and give you either:

  • A spinal block, which will numb the entire lower half of your body, or
  • General anesthesia, which will put you to sleep for the length of your surgery.

Either way, you won’t feel any pain during your hip replacement procedure. 

After the anesthetic has had time to kick in, the medical team will take you to the room where they’ll perform the surgery. During the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision over your hip and remove the damaged bone and cartilage. Then, they will implant the artificial joint and attach it to the healthy bone left in your hip. The entire hip replacement surgery typically takes about two hours

After your surgery, you’ll be taken to a recovery room for a few hours while your anesthesia wears off. During this time, your medical team will monitor your pain level, pulse, and blood pressure. They may give you additional medication as needed.

Many people can go home the same day as their hip replacement surgery. However, some patients with different medical needs may need to stay one or more nights for observation while they heal. 

What are the different types of hip replacement surgery?

The main types of hip replacement surgery are:

  • Total hip replacement: This is the most common type of hip replacement surgery. During a total hip replacement, a surgeon cuts away the diseased or damaged parts of the hip. Then, they replace the entire joint — ball and socket — with an implant made of metal, ceramic, and medical-grade plastic. They attach the artificial socket to your pelvic bone and connect the ball to a metal stem implanted into the top of your thigh bone.
  • Partial hip replacement: Also called a hemiarthroplasty, this procedure involves replacing only one part of the hip joint. In a partial hip replacement, a surgeon replaces the ball of the joint with an artificial ball and stem implanted into the top of the thigh bone. The socket is left alone. Typically, patients who get this surgery have hip pain is caused by a fracture, not arthritis.
  • Hip resurfacing: Like a total hip replacement, hip resurfacing involves implanting an artificial ball and socket into the hip joint. However, in this surgery, the femoral head (top of the thigh bone) isn’t removed completely. Instead, it’s shaved down and covered with a smooth metal covering that acts as the ball in the joint. This surgery is typically only done on younger, more active patients.
  • Hip revision: For some patients, hip replacement surgery isn’t the end of the story. If your artificial hip joint wears out over time or gets damaged by an infection, you may need hip revision surgery to correct the problem. This procedure involves replacing one or both parts of an artificial hip.

Different approaches to hip replacement surgery

Depending on which hip surgery you choose, there are couple of different ways your surgeon may approach your hip replacement procedure:

  • During anterior hip replacement surgery, the surgeon operates through a single large incision on the front of your hip. The incision typically starts at the top of the pelvic bone and ends at the top of the thigh.
  • Posterior hip replacement surgery uses a large, curved incision on the back and side of the hip.
  • Minimally-invasive hip replacement surgery involves one or more smaller incisions instead of a single large one. In this type of procedure, the surgeon often uses the help of x-ray guidance to help position the implant. Minimally-invasive procedures can involve shorter healing times than open surgeries, but they often require specialized surgical skills and equipment.

Which type of hip replacement surgery is right for you?

If you’ve tried physical therapy, steroid shots, and other nonsurgical treatments for your hip pain without success, it may be time to consider hip replacement surgery. Your healthcare provider will take x-rays and assess the extent of your joint damage to help you decide which type of hip replacement surgery is the right option for you.

Once you’re ready to schedule your hip replacement surgery, your next step is to find a surgeon to perform the procedure at a fair, affordable price. The New Choice Health Orthopedic Surgery Assistance program can help connect you with financing options and cash pay discounts that bring down the total price you pay for your hip replacement.



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Pensacola, FL 32502

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