You may be alarmed when you find out that your hip replacement is failing following a diagnosis. Maybe your doctor told you that you need a total hip revision – a second operation to replace the faulty hip. You are not alone. While many patients who’ve had hip replacements can expect problem-free use for at least 15 years, sometimes a hip revision is needed much sooner. Below, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about a diagnosis for a hip revision surgery.

Q:  Why would I need an early hip revision?

A:  Hip revision is often made necessary by the early failure of a replacement hip. Pain, swelling, infection, stiffness, fractures and dislocation are common complaints that indicate an initial faulty hip replacement. Many of these complications have been linked to recalled metal-on-metal hips made by DePuy and a number of other manufacturers.  These all-metal hips have been reported to release metallic particles into the hip area and the bloodstream, causing localized and system-wide problems.

Q:  What are the benefits of total hip revision?

A:  After a hip revision surgery the patient should experience reduced pain and greater mobility.  Participation in low-impact recreational activities such as walking, biking, and swimming will most likely be possible. In addition, replacing your metal-on-metal device with a newer artificial hip made of safer materials should provide you with many additional years of complication-free use.

Q:  What are the risks of hip revision?

A:  Most surgeries, including total hip revisions, have risks. Often, however, the benefits are far greater. Complications in hip revision surgery are similar to those of the initial hip replacement.  Reactions to anesthesia, blood clot formation, dislocation, infection, fracture, and leg shortening can occur. Patients must follow all doctor instructions closely or the hip revision may not be successful.

Q:  How is total hip revision performed?

A:  During a hip revision surgery, the faulty artificial hip is removed. Scar tissue or damaged areas of bone may also need to be taken out. Sometimes cadaver bone may be used to fill in areas that have been lost. At this point, the new hip is usually installed. In cases of extreme infection, a round of antibiotic therapy may be necessary between removal of the first artificial hip and insertion of the new one.

Q:  What is hip revision recovery like?

A:  In many ways, recovery from total hip revision is similar to that of the first hip replacement. The length of hospitalization will vary based on the severity of the operation, but usually lasts one week. During the first few days in the hospital, the patient will receive medicines such as anti-clotting drugs, antibiotics, and pain medications administered through an IV. The patient will be taught how to move, sit, and perform self-care activities safely during the healing process. Physical therapy usually begins the day after surgery, and the patient can generally expect to return to walking comfortably in about six months.

Q:  Where can I find more information?

A:  Patients that have recalled hip replacements or think that they have a metal-on-metal model should visit their doctor, whether or not they are experiencing any of the symptoms described here. A review of your medical record, a thorough physical assessment, and blood tests should be performed to determine your next course of action. In addition, you may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in medical device recalls to learn more about your legal options.

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