Total hip arthroplasty is one of the most successful orthopedic surgeries today. THA or total hip arthroplasty involves the replacement of the damaged hip joint with prosthetic implants. Since the first such surgery was performed in 1960; there have been rapid improvements and innovations in the technique and technology involved in this surgery. These positive and rapid improvements have only made THA a trusted and popular choice among orthopedic surgeons for degenerative and debilitating disorders involving the hip joint. Not surprisingly, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that more than 285,000 total hip replacements surgeries are performed in the United States alone anually.
Indications for a total hip arthroplasty:
Medical conditions such as hip osteoarthritis, hip arthritis (rheumatic or post-traumatic), and hip fractures often cause irreversible degenerative damage around and within the hip joint. Such damage subsequently results in restricted hip joint movements and sometimes moderate to severe pain around the hips, sometimes also accompanied with groin pain. So much so that individuals with hip arthritis, are likely to find walking, climbing stairs, squatting, sitting in or getting out of a chair painful and difficult. Even simple tasks such as putting on one’s socks and shoes are hampered due to stiff and painful hip joints. Today, total hip arthroplasty is turning out to be a boon for such patients. Besides, most individuals with hip arthritis, etc. hardly find relief with medications, lifestyle changes, and walking supports alone. On the other hand, hip arthroplasty is likely to provide pain relief and a marked improvement in the hip joint movements.
Importance of reducing the short-term complications of total hip arthroplasty:
Just like any other surgery, total hip arthroplasty is prone to a few short-term and long-term complications too. Up until now, the focus was largely on reducing the long-term complications of this surgery such as improving the wear and tear of the prosthetic implants to increase their longevity and enhance the cost-effectiveness of total hip arthroplasties. However, a recent study by David W. Shearer MD, etal. published in ‘clinical orthopaedics and related research’ now proposes that reducing the short-term complications of total hip arthroplasty surgeries is much more effective in increasing their cost-effectiveness.
These short-term complications include post-operative infections, blood clots or pulmonary emboli, and fractures. Reducing the instances of post-operative infections around the prosthetic implants is likely to reduce the chances of readmission due to infections drastically, in turn improving the cost-effectiveness of total hip arthroplasty.
Measures to reduce short-term complications after hip arthroplasty:
• Avoidance of infection post-surgery. Dental procedures, skin infections, and urinary tract infections are the most common pathways that are likely to result in the entry of bacteria into one’s bloodstream consequently resulting in peri-prosthetic infections. Hence, it’s recommended to take precautionary antibiotics (over the counter) before and during any dental procedure within 6 weeks of a THA.
• Blood clots and pulmonary emboli can be avoided with regular blood thinners post-THA. However, blood thinners should be taken only with proper medical advice and consideration.
• Avoid activities that may result in falls and subsequent fractures or dislocations of the prosthesis.
• Perform regular and light exercise programs recommended by a physiotherapist or orthopedic surgeon to maintain strength and mobility of the hip joint post-THA
• Proper follow-ups with the orthopedic surgeon for routine examinations and X-rays.
If you have been told that you are in need of a hip replacement by an orthopaedic surgeon or would like to obtain a second opinion, contact our specialists today at Orthopedic Surgery San Diego for an evaluation to determine a treatment plan that best suits your needs.