How do I Prepare for Hip Replacement Operation?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Begin preparing for your hip replacement operation several weeks before the event. Your doctor will run a series of tests to ensure that you are healthy enough to have the operation. You may also meet with a physical therapist or occupational therapist to devise a post-operation treatment plan. Make arrangements at home to make life easier, such as having someone there to help you and modifying your living space. It is also essential to discuss all of your medications and other medical conditions with your surgeon prior to having any procedure.

An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a replacement hip.
An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a replacement hip.

Discuss all facets of the hip replacement operation with your doctor well beforehand. Make sure you understand the potential risks, how your life will change, and what you can expect during recovery. Do not hesitate to ask for a second or even a third opinion from other doctors. Make a list of any services or devices you might need during your recovery, such as a walker, home physical therapy, or care in a rehabilitation hospital. Contact your insurance company with this information to determine what costs your insurance will cover.

In addition to sedating patients during the procedure, anesthesiologists ensure adequate pain management following hip replacement surgery.
In addition to sedating patients during the procedure, anesthesiologists ensure adequate pain management following hip replacement surgery.

Make arrangements to donate your own blood for your hip replacement operation, if desired. Patients who undergo a total hip replacement operation, as opposed to a partial hip replacement, will typically require more blood transfusions. Ask your doctor about the different types of hip implants available to you, and request that he disclose his success rate with the different devices.

Undergo all the necessary health screenings for your hip replacement operation. Your doctor will likely order blood and urine tests to ensure that you have no infections or other illnesses. A chest x-ray and an electrocardiograph (EKG) are also used for determining general health. You will likely be requested to have a dental check-up to check for dental infections, which may affect the success of your hip replacement.

Meet with the various health care professionals who will be responsible for your care. A social worker can help you find the resources you will need for recovery. Your occupational therapist and physical therapist will assess your post-operation needs to devise a recovery plan. An anesthesiologist will meet with you to discuss the different types of anesthesia. Make a list of all of your medical conditions, medications and supplements, including over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, and give a copy to the anesthesiologist and the surgeon.

Follow the instructions of your health care team to prepare for your hip replacement operation. You may need to discontinue certain medications for a period of time. You will also need to quit tobacco, if you use it, and avoid alcohol for at least two days prior to surgery. Patients who are overweight may be advised to lose excess weight to help reduce the risk that the implant may fail.

Finally, make arrangements at home to make your recovery easier after your hip replacement operation. Someone will need to take you home from the hospital and stay with you for at least a few days. If this is not a practical arrangement, your doctor will likely recommend transitional care in a rehabilitation hospital.

Stock your kitchen with a couple of weeks worth of food, as it will be difficult for you to shop for groceries for awhile. Make large batches of meals and freeze them. Arrange your home to place needed objects closer to arm-level to avoid reaching up or bending down too often. Expect to avoid the stairs for awhile and instead, set up an area in your home where you will have everything you need, such as medications, a phone, and entertainment material. Remove throw rugs, loose cables, and anything else on the floor that you might trip over as you navigate your home with a walker or crutches.

Patients who undergo a total hip replacement operation will typically require blood transfusions.
Patients who undergo a total hip replacement operation will typically require blood transfusions.

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