Total Hip Replacement Surgery

On October 9, BCH Orthopedic Services - except for rehabilitation - were totally relocated to Foothills Hospital, 4747 Arapahoe Avenue, in Boulder.  There were no changes in the range of services available, only the location. This was part of a consolidation of services at Foothills Hospital.  Click here for more information on this important change in local health care.

This surgery can reduce hip pain, restore range of motion and increase mobility, enabling most people to return to an active life. Symptoms of common diseases and injuries that are best treated with hip replacement surgery include:

  • Pain that keeps you awake at night.
  • Little or no relief from anti-inflammatory treatments, physical therapy, or walking aids such as canes.
  • Difficulty walking up or down stairs.
  • Trouble rising from a seated position.
  • Having to stop activities you enjoy, such as walking, because you're in too much pain.

Once reserved primarily for people over 60 years of age, hip replacement surgery can now be a successful treatment option for people in their 50s. Advances in medical technology have improved artificial hip joints so they can withstand more stress and last longer.

Visit our orthopedist list to schedule a consultation with a hip treatment specialist.

About Total Hip Replacement Surgery

During this surgery, the damaged parts of the hip socket (pelvic acetabulum) and thighbone (femur) are replaced with an artificial joint, also known as a prosthesis.  BCH surgeons offer two approaches to total hip replacement surgery:

  • In the posterior (back) approach, the surgeon reaches the hip joint by making an incision near the buttock.
  • In the anterior (front) approach,the surgeon accesses the hip joint by making an incision at the front of the hip near the groin.

View this hip replacement video to learn more.

In the last few years, there have been many exciting advances and improvements in the materials used to create artificial hip joints. Recent developments have improved the quality and durability of artificial joint components.

Hip Replacement Surgery at BCH

Our hip replacement program has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® by demonstrating compliance with national standards for quality and safety.  The Joint Commission is the nation’s largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. BCH is one of only five Colorado hospitals to have earned this important certification.

We use a patient-centered approach to medical care. Every patient receives a personalized care plan that guides the entire medical team — from the technicians who prepare the surgical suite to the rehabilitation therapists who will help you take your first steps after surgery. We’ll chaperon you through every step of the surgical process and keep your family members in the loop, too.

We offer a comprehensive range of surgical services including a dedicated orthopedic nursing unit where all clinical staff specialize in the treatment of orthopedic patients. We also can provide physical therapy and home care if you need those services.

Since we partner with many board-certified orthopedists, we can help you find a doctor who’s right for you. Visit our orthopedist list for information on surgeons affiliated with Boulder Community Health.

If you and your orthopedist decide that hip replacement surgery is the best treatment option for you, read our Hip Surgery Handbook which will prepare you for surgery and guide you through the recovery process. We also encourage you to attend a free Pre-Surgery Total Joint Class to learn more about your procedure and how to prepare for it. This important education can help you get the best possible care from your medical team and improve your recovery.

Questions and Answers About Hip Replacement Surgery

Who is a candidate for hip replacement surgery?

This surgery is appropriate for people who experience pain due to arthritis or an injured hip joint. Results for patients younger than 50 years of age aren’t as good as the results achieved by older patients. This is because younger people tend to be more active, causing more wear on joint implants and the need for another replacement surgery. However, studies do show that almost 90% of implants are still functioning 10 years after surgery, and more than 60% are still working after 15 years.

How will I benefit from this procedure?

By reducing hip pain, increasing mobility and restoring your range of motion, hip replacement surgery can help you reclaim an active life. Hip replacement surgery is a good alternative when non-surgical treatments fail to restore the health of your hip joint. This surgery has high success rates.

Can I resume my normal activities after surgery?

Full recovery from surgery takes 3 to 6 months, depending on the type of surgery, your overall health and the success of your rehabilitation. Most people can resume activities such as walking and driving, and some are able to swim, play golf and ride a bike.

Your commitment and cooperation are vital to a successful recovery. Following your orthopedist’s advice and your rehabilitation plan will increase your odds of resuming normal activities and reducing recovery time.

What are the risks of this surgery?

Hip replacement surgery is generally safe, but as with any surgery, complications can occur. The risks or complications are minimal and can be successfully treated. Possible complications of hip replacement include the following risks.

Blood clots can form in your leg veins as a result of decreased movement of your leg after surgery or injury to your veins during the procedure. Orthopedists usually prescribe blood-thinning medications after surgery to prevent clots from forming. Exercise to increase blood flow through your leg veins can also reduce the risk of clots. More information about how to prevent blood clots can be found in our Hip Surgery Handbook.

Infections can occur at the site of your incision and in the tissues near your new hip. Most infections are treated with antibiotics, but a major infection near your new joint may require surgery to replace the prosthesis.

Moving in certain ways may dislodge your new joint. To avoid this, surgeons recommend against certain movements. A brace can usually stabilize a dislodged hip and keep it in position. If your hip keeps dislocating, surgery may be needed to permanently stabilize it.

Over time, your new joint may loosen or break, causing pain in your hip. Surgery might be needed to fix this problem.

Surgeons take careful steps to avoid causing changes in your leg length, but this can happen due to weakness in the muscles surrounding your hip.  That muscle weakness also places the hip at risk of dislocation. In this case, progressively strengthening and stretching those muscles can make the joint more stable.

Soft tissues around your joint could harden (called ossification), making it difficult to move your hip. This usually isn't painful. Your doctor may recommend medications or radiation therapy to prevent ossification from happening.

Your prosthetic hip joint may eventually wear out. If you have hip replacement surgery when you're relatively young, you may need a second hip replacement within your lifetime. However, new materials are helping implants last longer, so a replacement may not be needed for 10 – 15 years.

To learn more, visit our orthopedist list to make an appointment with a hip specialist.

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