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Complications possible with hip replacement

According to the Mayo Clinic, hip replacement surgery is generally safe. But as with any surgery, complications can occur. Some complications are serious. But fortunately, most can be treated successfully.

Potential complications from hip replacement include:

  • Blood clots: Clots can form in leg veins as a result of decreased movement after surgery, as well as from pressure on the veins during surgery. Doctors usually give blood-thinning medications after surgery to try to prevent clots from forming. Compression devices, such as elastic stockings, and exercise to increase blood flow through the veins in the legs also can reduce the risk of clots.
  • Infection: Infections can occur at the site of an incision and in the deeper tissue near the new hip. Most infections are treated with antibiotics, but a major infection near the prosthesis may require surgery to remove and replace the prosthesis.
  • Fracture: During surgery, healthy portions of the hip joint may fracture. Sometimes the fractures are so small that they heal on their own, but larger fractures may be corrected during surgery with wires, cables or bone grafts.
  • Dislocation: Certain positions can cause the ball of a new joint to become dislodged. To avoid this, it is often recommended that after surgery patients don’t bend more than 90 degrees at the hip and don’t let their legs cross the midline of their body. If the hip dislocates, a brace may be required to keep the hip in the correct position. If the hip keeps dislocating, surgery is often required to stabilize it.
  • Loosening: Although this complication is rare with newer implants, a new joint may not become solidly fixed to your bone or may loosen over time, causing pain in the hip. Surgery might be needed to fix the problem.
  • Breakage of the prosthesis: Another rare possibility is that the artificial hip could break several years after surgery. Another surgery would be required to replace the broken joint.
  • Change in leg length: Surgeons takes steps to avoid this problem, but occasionally a new hip may make one leg longer or shorter than the other. Sometimes this is caused by weakness in the muscles surrounding the hip. In this case, progressively strengthening and stretching those muscles can make the hip more stable.
  • Joint stiffening: Sometimes the soft tissues around the joint harden – a condition called ossification – making movement of the hip difficult. This usually isn’t painful. Doctors may recommend medications or radiation therapy to reduce the risk of ossification.
  • Wear and tear over time: A prosthetic hip joint may wear out eventually. So patients who have hip replacement surgery when they’re relatively young and active may need a second hip replacement within their lifetime. But new materials are making implants last longer, so a second replacement may not be needed for many years.

The risk of complications from hip replacement also depends on the type of hip implant used. Thousands of patients who received metal-on-metal hip implants from DePuy Orthopaedics have filed lawsuits over problems including widespread failures of the devices within only a few years, as well as toxic metal debris breaking off and getting in patients’ bloodstream.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns from a DePuy implant. If you have significant injuries, you should also consult with a DePuy hip or transvaginal mesh lawyer to discuss your legal rights.

See the Mayo Clinic information here: