According to bonesmart.org, a "total hip replacement" involves the complete replacement of an arthritic hip joint that had been wearing away at bearing surfaces and causing the victim considerable pain. The implanted replacement is designed to improve stability and motion, as well as eliminate the pain. In the first step of the procedure, a metal stem with an attached hip ball is inserted inside the femur. Next, the hip ball is placed into a polyethylene liner - thus creating an artificial new joint. The polyethylene liner is then attached to a metal shell and "anchored" onto the pelvis with a cement fixation or a fixation called "bone in-growth."
Although total hip replacement surgery is known to be a safe procedure, there are a number of problems that can occur. Leg veins can develop blood clots as a result of the low amount of leg movement that is required after surgery. They can also form due to any vein injuries that were suffered during surgery. Elastic stockings can be worn to prevent blood clot formation, and light exercise to stimulate blood flow in the legs is also recommended. Infection is another risk, occurring at the area of incision or in the tissue surrounding the implant. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat infection, but serious cases may require replacement surgery. A surgical risk to keep in mind is the fracturing of the healthy sections of the hip, which often heal without assistance. However, large or deep fractures may require further surgery involving wires, cables or bone grafts to set them. After surgery, dislocation is a big concern because a stretched leg position can lead to a dislodging of the ball in the replacement joint. This can happen if the recovering patient bends at an angle exceeding ninety degrees or if the leg is raised above the midsection. In time, the joint can also become loosened, causing hip pain and sometimes requiring surgery. It can also break in rare cases, requiring a new replacement. Since muscles around the hip can become weakened following surgery, a change in the length of the affected leg can occur. Preventative exercises to stabilize those muscles are recommended to reduce this risk (Source: Mayo Clinic).
WEAR AND TEAR:
One of the biggest problems reported in hip replacement cases is the wear and tear that occurs through normal use of the replacement. When the implant starts to get chipped away at, polyethylene particles debris are released into the leg and sometimes recognized by the body as an infectious invader. When the body attacks them, osteolysis ("dissolving of the bone) can occur and may eventually require "revision," a replacement of the implant (Source: www.bonesmart.org).
ALTERNATIVE IMPLANT OPTIONS:
According to bonesmart.org, extremely active or young patients can be recommended a completely ceramic hip joint. This alternative has been practiced in Europe for three decades, but only recent got the FDA go-ahead in the U.S. In all-ceramic hip joints, the metal ball and polyethylene liner are replaced with an extremely durable ceramic bearing, which can offer much less wear and tear according to FDA-supervised clinical studies. Other studies have also proven that "highly cross linked" bearings (advanced polyethylene liners) can help manage implant wear as well.
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