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What is an Artificial Hip?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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An artificial hip is used to replace a hip that has been damaged or injured. Also referred to as a hip prosthesis, the artificial replacement of a hip is a surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia. One of the main reasons for having a hip replaced is to restore function and mobility to a hip that has been damaged due to a condition such as osteoarthritis. Injuries, such as a dislocation or broken hip, may also lead to hip replacement surgery.

The hip is a ball and socket joint. It is composed of the ball, known as the femoral head, located in the upper part of the thighbone and the acetabulum, which is the hip socket. A hip implant generally replaces both the ball and socket. There are two common types of prosthesis generally used for a hip replacement: a cemented prosthesis or an uncemented prosthesis. In some cases, a combination of both types may be used.

When given a cemented prosthesis, the artificial hip is held in place by a type of cement that attaches the replacement directly to the bone. Mesh material is generally used in an uncemented prosthesis. The bones will grow through holes in the mesh that will attach the replacement hip to the bone. The surgeon performing the surgery will usually decide which type of prosthesis is best for the individual patient.

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There are many reasons a patient may need to receive an artificial hip. Osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis that can lead to complete wearing out of the hip, is one of the most common reasons for undergoing hip replacement surgery. This condition often causes degeneration in the joint's connective tissues.

Avascular necrosis can also lead to the wearing out of the hip joint. In this condition, the blood supply to the ball portion of the hip or femoral head is diminished or may be completely interrupted. Once the blood supply is lost, avascular necrosis can cause the femoral head to collapse, leading to the breaking down of the hip joint.

Hip replacement may also be necessary due to an injury. A replacement may be necessary in an individual with a hip that has been dislocated, and which has failed to be corrected by less invasive measures. In many cases, a hip that has been fractured or completely broken may also need to be replaced to restore functionality.

Some of the most common ways to injure the hip include taking a hard fall or being involved in a car accident. A break or fracture may weaken the blood supply to the hip, which could lead to other conditions, such as avascular necrosis. These types of injuries may also leave the bones in a weakened state. Eventually, the hip could become completely immobile after suffering such injuries to the joint, making the replacement of the injured hip necessary.

Hip replacement surgery involves removing the damaged or injured hip and replacing it with an artificial hip. Complications from the surgery may include stiffening of the joint, infection, and blood clots. Prior to the surgery, the surgeon will typically discuss the procedure, risks, and complications with the patient in full detail.

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