Hip complications

The hip joint is a ball and socket articulation between the upper part of the thigh bone (femoral head) and socket of the pelvis (acetabulum). Owing to the fact that the joint is formed with a very deep and congruent socket, a normal hip joint is extremely strong and stable. After certain forms of hip surgery, the structure of the hip joint will have changed and it may lose this stability. This may lead to a feeling of pain and weakness in the hip on doing certain activities and in severe cases hip joint dislocation. If left untreated ongoing hip pain and weakness may lead to early hip joint degenerative changes or failure of the metal components of a hip replacement (prosthesis).

If suffering from post surgical hip complications we are able to provide an immediate expert second opinion from one of our experienced hip orthopaedic consultants. At an initial consultation our specialist will take an in depth history of the problem followed up by a physical examination.

X-rays and sometimes more specialist diagnostic scans will be organised in the event of a hip joint dislocation and other suspected cases of structural hip deformity or failure of the prosthesis. In some cases blood tests may be organised to exclude any hip joint infection.

Thanks to our state-of-the-art diagnostic facilities, these diagnostic tests will be performed immediately and a follow up with the requesting hip specialist booked to streamline car for any patient suffering with hip complications.

One of the most serious complications following a hip replacement operation (hip arthroplasty) is dislocation of the new hip joint while a patient is rehabilitating. To perform a hip replacement a surgeon needs to make an incision through the gluteal muscles as well as the soft tissue capsule of the hip joint. For a period of time after the operation this means that these tissues are weaker than normal but also that the gluteal muscles which normally stabilise the hip joint are unable to contract properly due to pain and healing.

This complication may be higher for those individuals undergoing a revision hip replacement or with certain, pre-existing hip joint structural problems. After any hip operation our expert hip surgeons and physiotherapists will always fully educate you about any movements to be careful with (hip precautions).

Unfortunately, hip replacements do not have an infinite lifespan. Factors which may reduce the lifespan of a hip replacement include:

  • Hip replacement performed in younger patients (possibly due to a higher activity level)
  • Poor rehabilitation following surgery
  • An unstable hip replacement prosthesis (feels weak or dislocated after surgery)
  • Obesity
  • Revision hip replacements

Although there is some evidence to suggest activity levels do affect the lifespan of a hip replacement most hip replacements fail through a process known as prosthetic loosening. This process may be more related to a reaction and subsequent softening of the bone surrounding the metallic components of the hip replacement. Evidence suggests this occurs independent of the activity level of the hip in some studies.

In circumstances where there is evidence that a new, revision hip replacement may be required, Circle Health is able to offer short notice appointments with experience hip surgeons to investigate symptoms efficiently with an x-ray or bone scan. Within days of visiting our specialists we are able to book patients for revision hip replacement surgery at their discretion.

General hip surgery poses anaesthetic risks during the operation which Circle Health anaesthetists and surgeons, along with our expert nurses always prepare our patients for prior to surgery. Following surgery, our nursing staff and expert physiotherapists will work to ensure patients are mobile as quickly as possible following surgery reducing any risks of respiratory complications.

Even with minimally invasive incissions often used for hip surgery, infection is still a risk. At Circle Health we have state-of-the-art operating suites as well as infection-control procedures post-operatively in our patients’ private rooms, which minimise this risk.

Complex, structural hip problems are not just related to surgery. Unfortunately, a number of different medical problems can affect the hip joints.

In our early years, our joints develop in response to the joint surfaces, joint soft tissue capsules and muscles being subject to movement and weight bearing. A condition known as hip dysplasia can occur in which the hip joint is not located in the socket and as such the hip joint does not develop properly.

Hip dysplasia can be treated in a number of ways depending on how early the condition is diagnosed. Our expert consultant hip surgeons at Circle Health are well placed to give early, accurate diagnosis of this condition and appropriate treatment as indicated.

Other problems which if left untreated can lead to early hip degenerative changes include immune system disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as interruption to the blood supply to the hip joint termed ostenecrosis.

Again, early and accurate diagnosis is the key to getting a good long term outcome for these conditions which our experienced hip consultants will provide.

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Circle Health Group, 1st Floor, 30 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6XH