How Is Hip Replacement Surgery Performed?

Hip replacement surgery is similar to having most things fixed—worn parts are taken out, and new parts are installed in their places. In hip surgery, the damaged portions of your hip are removed and replaced with metal and plastic implants.

Hip surgery usually takes two to four hours, although this is dependent upon the severity of the arthritis in your hip. Here's what you can expect on a typical day of hip surgery:

  • You should arrive at the hospital at least two hours before your scheduled surgery. The nurses will complete your preparation for surgery and will likely review your care following surgery.
  • A small tube (intravenous line) is inserted into your arm. This tube is used to administer antibiotics and other medication during your surgery.
  • You're taken to the operating room and given anesthesia.
  • In the operating room, a urinary catheter is inserted and will be left in place for one or two days.
  • Compression stockings and pneumatic sleeves are put on both legs.
  • The procedure begins with an incision over the side of your hip.
  • The ball end of your thighbone (femur) is cut and replaced with the new metal ball-and-stem component. It may be stabilized with or without cement.
  • The damaged surface of the socket is smoothed in preparation for the insertion of the new socket.
  • The ball and socket are joined.
  • When the surgeon is satisfied with the fit and function, the incision is cleaned and covered with dressings.
  • Small drainage tubes are inserted into your hip to drain fluids that naturally develop at the surgical site.
  • You're taken to the recovery room, where you will be closely monitored.
  • Anesthesia wears off, and you slowly regain consciousness. A nurse is with you and may encourage you to cough or breathe deeply to help clear your lungs.
  • You're given pain medication.
  • A foam wedge or pillows are placed between your legs to help hold your hip joint in place.
  • You are fully awake and are taken to your hospital room.
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Talk to your surgeon about whether joint replacement or another treatment is right for you and the risks of the procedure, including the risk of implant wear, loosening or failure, and pain, swelling and infection. Zimmer Biomet does not practice medicine; only a surgeon can answer your questions regarding your individual symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.