Avoiding Complications

Avoiding Complications

The complication rate following hip replacement surgery is low. Serious complications, such as joint infection, occur in less than 2 percent of patients. Major medical complications, such as heart attack or stroke, occur even less frequently. However, chronic illnesses may increase the potential for complications.

Blood clots in the leg veins or pelvis are the most common complication of hip replacement surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon may prescribe one or more measures to prevent blood clots from forming in your leg veins or becoming symptomatic. These measures may include special support hose, inflatable leg coverings, ankle pump exercises, and blood thinners.

Leg-length inequality may occur or may become or seem worse after hip replacement surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon will take this into account, in addition to other issues, including the stability and biomechanics of the hip. Some patients may feel more comfortable with a shoe lift after surgery.

Other complications such as dislocation, nerve or blood vessel injury, bleeding, fracture, and stiffness can occur. In a small number of patients, some pain can continue, or new pain can develop after surgery.

Over years, the hip prosthesis may wear out or loosen. However with newer materials and techniques, this has become less likely. If the prosthesis wears, bone loss may occur because of the small particles produced at the wearing surface. This process is called osteolysis.

Staying Healthy after Hip Replacement
The most common causes of infection following hip replacement surgery are from bacteria that enter the bloodstream during dental procedures, urinary tract infections, or skin infections.  These bacteria can lodge around your prosthesis.

Preventing Blood Clots
Follow your orthopedic surgeon's instructions carefully to minimize the potential of blood clots that can occur during the first several weeks of your recovery.

Warning signs of possible blood clots in your leg include:  

  • Increasing pain in your calf
  • Tenderness above or below your knee
  • Increasing swelling in your calf, ankle and foot

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately.

Warning signs that a blood clot has traveled to your lung include:  

  • Sudden increased shortness of breath
  • Sudden onset of chest pain
  • Localized chest pain with coughing

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately.

Warning signs of a possible hip replacement infection are:  

  • Persistent fever (higher than 100 degrees orally)
  • Chills
  • Increasing redness, tenderness, or swelling of the hip wound
  • Drainage from the hip wound
  • Increasing hip pain with both activity and rest

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, call your CJRI surgeon.


Avoiding Falls

A fall during the first few weeks after surgery can damage your new hip and may result in a need for more surgery.  Stairs are a particular hazard until your hip is strong and mobile.  You should use a cane, crutches, a walker or handrails, or have someone help you until you improve your balance, flexibility and strength. Your surgeon and physical therapist will help you decide what assistive aides will be required following surgery, and when those aides can safely be discontinued.


Other Precautions
To assure proper recovery and prevent dislocation of the prosthesis, you must take the following precautions:

  • Do not cross your legs
  • Do not bend your hips more than a right angle (90 degrees)
  • Do not turn your feet excessively inward or outward
  • Use a pillow between your legs at night when sleeping
  • You may need to take antibiotics prior to dental work, including dental cleanings, or any surgical procedure that could allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream.

Joint Replacement to Restore Motion and Renew Vitality

Total knee, hip, and shoulder replacement surgery, as well as other surgical and non-surgical treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis of the joints.

Call 1-866-501-2574