Some problems that can arise from hip replacement surgery include the danger of infection, blood clots, unequal leg length, dislocation, implant loosening and injuries to nerves and blood vessels, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Following recovery instructions and maintaining a healthy weight minimizes the risks.
Infection can set in deep around the replacement joint or on the top levels of the wound, and it can happen right after surgery or years after the replacement. Skin-level infections usually resolve after antibiotic treatment, but deep infections may necessitate surgery and even removal of the implant. Blood clotting is the most frequently occurring complication of hip replacement procedures. Clots can be fatal if they break off and flow to the lungs. Blood thinners, support hose, ankle pump exercise and an early return to movement can all prevent clots, as stated by AAOS.
The surgeon may adjust the length of a leg to maximize the stability of the hip after the surgery, making one leg feel shorter or longer. A shoe lift after the procedure can ease the discomfort that this feeling produces. Dislocation takes place when the ball of the hip leaves the socket, and the risk is highest during the first couple of months after the operation while the tissue is still healing. This is uncommon, but if dislocation does take place, it is usually possible to resolve it without additional surgery unless dislocation keeps happening, according to AAOS.
Over time, the replacement joint can loosen or wear out as a result of wear or osteolysis, thinning of the bone. A revision surgery may be required if this causes pain, notes AAOS.