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Revision total hip replacement

4-minute read

This page will give you information about a revision total hip replacement. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a revision total hip replacement?

A revision total hip replacement is an operation to take out parts of your old hip replacement and put in new ones.

A hip replacement can fail for the following reasons.

  • wearing out of the artificial ball-and-socket joint
  • infection in your hip replacement
  • dislocation (coming out of joint)
  • fracture (break) of the femur around your hip replacement

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should be able to walk better and do more of your normal activities.

Illustration showing a revision total hip replacement.
A revision total hip replacement.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

If your symptoms are mild, you and your surgeon may decide to watch and wait for a while.

If you have an infection in your hip replacement, using antibiotics over the long term can sometimes prevent your hip replacement from failing.

If your hip replacement keeps coming out of joint, you can wear a brace to try to keep your hip in place.

If you have a fracture near your hip replacement but the replacement is still well fixed to the bone, you maybe able to be treated with painkillers and using walking aids until the fracture heals. This can take a long time. Sometimes you may be able to have an operation to fix the fracture without changing your hip replacement.

What does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible.

Your surgeon will make a cut on the side of your hip. They will remove your hip replacement and any cement.

Your surgeon will put in a new hip replacement, which is often larger than your old one. Your hip replacement is fixed into the bone using acrylic cement or special coatings on your hip replacement that bond directly to the bone.

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • unsightly scarring of your skin
  • blood clot in your leg
  • blood clot in your lung
  • difficulty passing urine
  • chest infection
  • heart attack
  • stroke

Specific complications of this operation

  • split in the femur
  • damage to nerves around your hip
  • damage to blood vessels around your hip
  • infection in your hip
  • loosening
  • bone forming in muscles around your hip replacement
  • dislocation of your hip replacement
  • leg length difference
  • death

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after 3 to 10 days.

You may need to use a walking aid for a few weeks. It often takes longer to recover from a revision hip replacement than your first hip replacement.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Most people make a good recovery and most revision total hip replacements work well.

A revision total hip replacement can fail with time, if it wears out, or the original problem comes back.

Summary

If your original hip replacement fails, you can usually have another operation to do your hip replacement again. If this revision operation is successful, you should be able to continue many of your normal activities.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2020


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