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Complications in perspective

The vast majority of hip replacement operations pass without any complications (9/10). A small number of patients will suffer one or more complications associated with this operation. Although the list of possible complications is long (this list is not exhaustive), many of these problems are very rare (those marked with an asterisk occur in fewer than 1/100 cases [NHS Choices Website: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hip-replacement/Pages/Complications.aspx]).

Problems with the hip

Problems with the leg

  • Swelling
  • Blistering
  • Deep venous thrombosis (Clot in the vein)[Epidemiology of venous thromboembolism after lower limb arthroplasty: the FOTO study. Samama CM, Ravaud P, Parent F, Barre J, Mertl P, Mismetti P. J Thromb Haemost. 2007 Dec;5(12):2360-7.]
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nerve injury*
  • Arterial injury*

General problems after surgery

  • Constipation
  • Post-operative nausea and vomiting
  • Post-operative chest infection
  • Post-operative chest pains
  • Pulmonary embolus (Clot in the lungs)*
  • Myocardial infarction (Heart attack)*
  • Peri-operative death (within 30 days)*
Leg lengthening after total hip replacement
Dislocated Hip Replacement
Hip joint impingement

How long will a hip replacement last?

At present we must assume that all hip replacements will wear out or wear loose at some point, hopefully after about 10 years of service. The finite life of a hip replacement must be discussed with patients as part of their decision making process.

Studies of hip replacements generally report average "survival" of the joint, using reoperation as measurable end point. As with all averages there will be some patients in whom the joint lasts less than 10 years and some cases where the joint last significantly longer.

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