Complications of Hip Replacement Surgery

Complications of hip replacement surgery

Hip replacement surgery can carry high risks of complications for certain people.

Surgery of any kind carries risks but the complications of hip replacement surgery are increased for several reasons. Firstly hip replacement surgery is usually done on the more senior of us (or baby boomers as we tend to be known) and we tend to have other health issues. Many of us carry too much weight  or have other health issues and so our risk factors sky rocket.

This article from is actually about the increase in the number of operations that will be needed in the next 15 to 20 years. But the interesting part to me was the number of the over 69s who required post operative critical care due to complications of hip replacement surgery. This is what was reported:

The study analyzed the outcomes of more than 500,000 patients who underwent total hip or knee replacement surgery and found that three percent required critical care services before they were discharged from the hospital. 

That’s a high number. What they didn’t report was the mortality rate so if anyone knows the answer to that please leave a comment below.

What they give was these criteria for those who were more likely to suffer from serious complications of hip replacement surgery.

Patients most likely to require critical care were 69 and older, and were obese, had advanced diabetes or had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The use of general, rather than regional, anesthesia also increased the need for critical care.

with the most common ones being

cardiac difficulties such as heart attacks and pulmonary issues, including shortness of breath and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The latter requires prolonged time on a ventilator and carries a high risk of death.  Joint replacement surgery carries a special risk for pulmonary distress.

“When a prosthesis is implanted, bone marrow, fat debris and cement particles can enter the blood stream of the patient,” said Memtsoudis.  “The first organ to see that load of embolic material is the lung.  When the load of debris is large or the lung itself is compromised by preexisting disease, the resulting inflammation in the lung can cause pulmonary compromise.”

All in all those complications of hip replacement surgery wouldn’t inspire me to rush out and get any of my joints replaced!

Reduce the Chance of Complications of Hip Replacement Surgery

I think the most important thing you should take away from this article is to do the following BEFORE thus reducing the chance of your suffering any complications of hip replacement surgery.

1. Lose weight before you go for surgery. I realise that is difficult when you can’t exercise because of your hip osteoarthritis. However if you can you will reduce both the pain you suffer now and reduce the complication of hip replacement surgery even if it is only a few pounds.

 2. Do some exercise if you can. I realise that will be easier AFTER you have had your hip replacement surgery but a targeted exercise program on your hip can help you do more cardiovascular (weight loss type) of exercise. You can read Leslie’s story about managing to get some exercise and lose weight while she has knee osteoarthritis.

3. Make sure you have a thorough examination of your heart and lungs to see what condition they are in. They are most likely to be affected by any complications of hip replacement surgery.

4. Be brave and have it done with regional, rather than general, anesthesia. Your recovery period will be less and there are fewer complications of hip replacement surgery. You can wear headphones and listen to music to relax you!

Have you suffered any complications of hip replacement surgery ?

If you have please tell us your story. Or had is your new hip the best thing you ever had! There are many readers of this blog who are trying to decide whether the complications of hip replacement surgery are worth risking. So are they- only you can tell us…..

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3 Responses to Complications of Hip Replacement Surgery

  1. debbie sorrell says:

    i have both hips replaced and still in extreme pain. i began having issues with my left hip in my mid 20s. was told in my mid 30s by a doctor i had a wheelchair in my future because of the severity of my osteo in my joints, but suffer with the pain as long as i could before i did the surgery due to my young age plus at that point in time the hips were still being replaced by plastics & they had already started doing knees & other joints in titanium & technolgy was rapidly improving and try to wait till was being used in the hips. i had it finally had the left one done in 2000 at the age 47. had a great dr, in Charlotte, N.C. who advised me to make an appt. for 3 months to have the right hip done as it was already in horrible condition and that i was doing irrepairable damage to my spine by the twisting of it to offset the uneven movements and pain. this same dr. also advised me to never allow anyone to open up my spine for any reason as it would make things worse. i told him no way could i survive another one of these surgeries (was still in hospital at that time} i was in heaven after healing from this surgery! i could walk without a limp or walker and pain free on the left side. in 2005 i finally had to have the right one done, just could not live with the pain any more on this side . all this time i was a single mom working most of the times 2 jobs. this time it was done in my hometown area in johnson city ,tn. after it was over i kept having pain, not as much as before the surgery but was not pain free like after the 1st hip was done , but was still pretty tuff. seems this time my right leg was several inches shorter than the left. of course the dr. who did this surgery claimed that it was not an ” exact science” and to wear a lift in my shoe and deal with it as nothing could be done….since then i had to file disability and no longer able to work as cant stand, walk, sit ,etc.. for more than 30 mins or so with out changing positions. cant lift anything over 20-3o lbs. due to the downward pressure, and so forth and so on. i really dont even know why i have told you my story , but something compelled me to do so after reading this article. since 2005 i have had to have ankle replacement and 2 of my two had to have screws put in to reattach them to my foot as the osteo had destroyed the material holding them on. also had numerous small stress fractures in my feet plus about 7-9 verterbrae are crumbled. believe me I KNOW PAIN. my one question i really have is this: while in 5th & 6th grades i had to bouts of rheumatic fever. the second time i was bed ridden for an entire year with a homebound teacher and then never allowed to take phys ed or sports thru the rest of my schoolyears. i was given massive doses dailey of penicillun till i was 21….. is this the reason arthritis problems set in at such an early age? is there a correlation between the two diseases? i cant seem to find any answer to this from drs and my internet researches.. oh, by the way, thanks for listening to my story and if you have any suggestions for pain management would be greatly appreciated because my life is a daily hell of pain and sleepless nites as cant get confortable enuff to rest. really not worth much living and only 58 yrs old. regards, deb sorrell.

  2. debbie sorrell says:

    the response i was just given on my above comments said; waiting on moderation…can u explain that please

  3. Dr. Sophie says:

    Sorry Debbie, I do that so people don’t post rubbish to my site which obviously you did not. People spam websites like they do our emails and I hate it!

    Thank you for sharing your story. If there is a correlation between between antibiotics/rheumatic fever and osteoarthritis I have not heard of it. Rheumatic fever usually affects organs rather than bone (primarily the heart causing valve problems) and certainly I have never heard of antibiotics causing OA.

    I have sent you a personal email with some recommendations for some lifestyle change. Do you do any targeted exercises to improve the muscles around the hip? They will be very sore and inflamed with the leg now being short. I know you think exercises will make you worse but if they are targeted and designed for you they will not. If you can reduce the inflammation pain of the muscles, tendons and ligaments (which are the scaffolding around your joint as well as moving your joint) you will suffer less pain.

    If you have any questions you want answering please feel free to reply to my email.

    Thanks for telling us your story. Living as you do is hard but telling your story may help someone make a more informed decision about their own treatment.

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