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FAQ: Hip Joint Replacement Print E-mail
Written by Amanda Wattson, MD   
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Hip joint replacement is a surgical procedure to replace the hip joint. The new joint is artificial and has 2 parts. The first part is the hip's socket, called the acetabulum. This is a cup-shaped bone in the pelvis. The second part is the "ball" or head of the femur, also called the thighbone.

These artificial parts together are called a prosthesis. The artificial socket is often made of high-density plastic. The artificial ball, which is attached to a stem, is usually made of a strong, stainless metal. The goal of the surgery is to relieve pain and improve mobility and function in the hip joint.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

This surgery is most commonly done to relieve severe arthritis, which can wear down the hip joint. People with other conditions, such as injury, bone tumors, and avascular necrosis, or a loss of bone caused by a lack of blood supply, may also need a hip joint replaced. An individual is usually advised to consider this surgery when the following conditions apply:
# The pain is severe enough to restrict not only work and recreation but also the normal activities of daily living.
# The pain is not relieved by arthritis medications.
# The person is not helped by the use of a cane or walker.
# There is significant stiffness of the hip that limits activities.
# Joint X-rays show advanced arthritis or other severe problems.

How is the procedure performed?

The surgeon first removes the diseased bone and cartilage. Replacement pieces are implanted into healthy areas of the pelvis and thighbone. These pieces are then cemented in place.

One method does not require cement and is called cementless hip joint replacement. This allows bone to grow into the prosthesis, and it may last longer than a cemented hip. This can be an important advantage for younger people.

The surgery is usually done in the operating room under general anesthesia, which means the person is put completely to sleep. The procedure usually takes 2 to 3 hours to perform.


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