Patient journey

The path of your procedure, from first steps to bold new strides

First steps

Your journey starts with a comprehensive meeting in clinic. I’ll listen to you, to understand how your hip problems are affecting you. Next, I’ll examine you, review your imaging and discuss the various treatment options available to you – including both risks and benefits.

If you decide you’d like to proceed with surgery, I’ll ask you to sign your consent and arrange for you to be seen in our pre-assessment clinic. Here, we’ll asses your fitness for surgery and identify any special needs. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions regarding your surgery, discuss the type of anaesthetic, and make plans for your discharge. Usually, we’ll try to carry out this assessment at your first appointment.

On the day

Normally, you’ll be admitted to hospital on the day of your surgery, where I’ll see you again to confirm your consent and mark your leg to identify the site of the surgery.
You’ll also meet your anaesthetist, who’ll discuss the anaesthetic options with you. This includes a special anaesthetic technique to allow rapid recovery from your surgery, minimising the side effects of normal anaesthetic techniques.

Your procedure

Patients usually receive a spinal anaesthetic. This involves a small injection in the back which will temporarily numb your legs. This is combined with sedation or, occasionally, a light general anaesthetic, and helps patients to move around safely and comfortably within hours of surgery.

The surgery itself is carried out using a minimally invasive, muscle-sparing technique and normally lasts about an hour. Following surgery, you should experience minimal pain and be comfortable. Once you’re back in your room, you’ll be offered some food and a drink.

After a few hours you should be sufficiently recovered to be able to walk short distances under the supervision of a nurse or physiotherapist. The following day, patients are usually able to walk independently and are taught to climb the stairs. While you’re in hospital, I’ll normally see you once or twice a day to monitor your progress.

Getting up and about

After one or two nights, you should be comfortable enough to return home. By then you’ll be independently mobile and able to climb stairs. Your wound will be sealed with glue and covered with a dressing that will allow you to shower or have hydrotherapy. There are no stiches to remove. You may experience some initial bruising, but this will gradually resolve.

Most patients are sent home with two crutches, but rarely need them by the time I see you again in two weeks.  At this point, I’ll check your wound and assess your fitness to drive. 
Over the next few weeks, you’ll continue to improve. Usually you’ll find that your hip will stiffen with inactivity, and then ease as you walk. Gradually, as the weeks pass, your hip will become less stiff and more flexible. Your physiotherapist will have given you exercises to do, and you should continue with these.

By six weeks after surgery, you should have returned to most normal daily activities. For the following month or two, you might experience a little stiffness when sitting. This is perfectly normal and should ease off after taking a few steps. As the weeks pass, the flexibility in your hip will increase, until you reach a point where your hip feels completely normal.

You can usually commence low-impact sports, such as golf, and tennis within eight weeks. Activities such yoga and Pilates will become easier as you regain your flexibility. Hip replacements continue to improve over four to five months, meaning you can resume high-impact sports, such as running and skiing, somewhere between four to six months as advised.

The goal is a return to normal life – whatever that looks like for you – with normal hip function. And, in 95% of cases, that’s exactly what we achieve. 

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