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Total Hip Replacement

What you should know

Total hip replacement is surgery to replace a hip joint damaged by wear, injury, or disease. It is also called total hip arthroplasty. The hip joint is where the top of your femur (thigh bone) sits in the socket of your pelvic bone. The joint is held together by ligaments and muscles. The top of your femur is shaped like a ball and covered with cartilage. Cartilage is a tissue that helps joints move.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may be allergic to the anesthesia and have trouble breathing. You may bleed more than expected and need a blood transfusion. Your nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, or muscles may be damaged during surgery. Even after surgery, you may get an infection. You may have more hip pain, or your hip joint may become stiff or numb. Your joint movement may not be as stable as it was before your surgery. Your legs may not be the same length. You may have bone loss, or bones near the implant area may break or crack.
  • You may get a blood clot in your leg. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs or brain. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. A blood clot in your brain can cause a stroke. These problems can be life-threatening.
  • Your implant may get loose or move out of place. If this happens, you may need another surgery to replace the implant. You may also need surgery to remove infected tissues. If you do not have this surgery, your hip pain may get worse. You may have more trouble walking or moving around. You may also have trouble going back to your usual activities.

Getting Ready

The week before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
  • Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • You may need to donate blood before your surgery. Your blood is stored in case you need it during or after your surgery.
  • Remove rugs, obstacles, and hazards to walking in your home. You may need a raised toilet seat or special showering devices to help with your daily activities.
  • You may need x-rays of your spine, pelvis, or legs. This will help your caregiver plan your surgery. Ask about any tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your surgery:

  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.


What will happen:

Your hip area will be cleaned. Your caregiver will make an incision on the front or side of your hip. The ball of your femur and the damaged cartilage in the socket of your pelvis will be removed with medical tools. The hip implant will be fitted to replace the bones that were removed. Your caregiver will use screws or medical cement to secure the implant. A drain may be placed to remove extra blood and fluids from the surgery area. Your incision will be closed with stitches or staples and covered with a bandage.

After surgery:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely. Do not try to get out of bed. When caregivers see that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your surgery.
  • You get a cold, the flu, or have a fever.
  • You have infected skin or a wound near the area where your surgery will be done.
  • You have questions or concerns about your hip surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • The problems for which you are having the surgery get worse.
  • You have severe hip pain.
  • You have more trouble walking or moving your hip.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

Learn more about Total Hip Replacement (Precare)

Micromedex® Care Notes