Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip joint replacement surgery is performed when hip damage or pain is so severe that nonsurgical treatments could not provide relief. It involves removing damaged cartilage and bone and replacing them with artificial parts made of metal or plastic. It can help relieve pain, help your joint work better and return you to an active lifestyle.

Reasons for Having the Procedure

The most common reason why people have their hip replaced is to alleviate pain from arthritis, which can impact your ability to live an active lifestyle. Other reasons your doctor may recommend hip replacement surgery include:

  • Problems sleeping due to hip pain
  • Other nonsurgical treatments have not alleviated the pain
  • Difficulty with normal activities such as walking or bathing

Other reasons for replacing the hip joint are:

  • Thigh bone fractures
  • Hip joint tumors

Schedule an Appointment

Orthopedic surgeons at South Texas Health System Clinics can evaluate your condition and perform hip replacement surgery.

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Description of the Procedure

You will be given regional or general anesthesia so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. With traditional hip replacement surgery, the surgeon makes an eight to ten-inch incision to cut the muscles and tendons around the hipbone and replace the damaged joint. Our surgeons use a minimally invasive technique, which helps patients experience less discomfort and recover quicker. During the procedure, the surgeon operates through incisions that are just one to two inches long (the method depends on the patient’s arthritis condition, bone type, and body size/shape) with the assistance of X-ray guidance and special surgical instruments. Because it involves less cutting of muscle, tendons and ligaments, patients experience less trauma to the body, recover more swiftly and may go home the day after surgery.

The surgeon removes the damaged femoral head and resurfaces the joint with metal and plastic implants. The new implants result in smooth movement between the ball and socket, decreasing pain and stiffness and restoring hip function.

The replacement hip is comprised of a stem, ball and socket. The socket implant is attached by using a special kind of epoxy cement for bones or by pressing the implant into the socket so that it fits very tightly and is held in place by friction. Some implants may have special surfaces with pores that allow bone to grow into them to help hold the implant in place. Depending on the condition of the patient’s bone, the surgeon may also decide to use screws to help hold the implant in place. When the shell portion of the socket implant is in place, the plastic liner is locked into place inside the shell.

The ball portion of the implant is attached to a long metal stem that fits down into the femur (upper leg bone). The bone has relatively soft, porous bone tissue in the center. Special instruments are used to clear this tissue and mold the area to fit the shape of the implant stem. The stem implant will be inserted into this area and held in place by either using the special cement for bones, or by making it fit very tightly in the canal. The stem implant may have a special surface with pores that allow bone to grow into them. When all the implants are in place, the surgeon places the new ball that is now part of the upper leg bone into the new socket that is secure within the pelvic bone.

This surgery normally takes from one to three hours.


There are several risks associated with hip replacement surgery including:

  • Hip dislocation, caused when the ball comes out of the socket
  • Blood clots
  • Infections
  • Implant fracture


You will be in the hospital for one to three days after the surgery. Moving and walking will begin as soon as the day after surgery. Prior to going home, you may need to spend some time in a rehabilitation center learning how to safely perform daily activities. The outlook for recovery after hip replacement surgery is excellent. Most people fully recover and the pain is gone. Most patients resume normal activities within six to 12 weeks, although it may take six to 12 months to realize the full benefits of the surgery. Artificial hip joints can loosen within 15 to 20 years so you may need a second replacement.