When a replacement joint wears out, loosens or develops a problem, it can be resurfaced or replaced in a joint revision operation. Using regular X-ray examinations, the orthopedic surgeon can detect and monitor any changes, and plan for revision surgery before a major problem develops.
Revision hip surgery requires the removal of the previous prosthesis, the cement, the surrounding tissue and the dead bone before a new prosthesis can be inserted.
Postoperative care for revision hip surgery is the same as that for total hip replacement surgery. Patients receive a combination of home healthcare, physical and occupational therapy home health care and other forms of rehabilitation.
Complications from this procedure, in addition to the risks associated with any major surgery, are similar to those for original joint replacement surgery. However, the success rate for revision surgery is usually lower than that for the original surgery because the bone is weaker. Complications from revision hip surgery may include:
- Infection (in only 2 to 4 percent of cases)
- Loosening of the new prosthesis (in 10 to 15 percent of cases. The likelihood is much greater if the patient is overweight and/or does not use crutches during the first few months)
- Bone fractures during or after surgery (since the bone is weaker and there may be considerable scar tissue around the joint)
- Dislocation (twice as common as for a primary procedure)
- One leg shorter than the other
- Bone loss in the joint
If the joint is infected, it might be surgically removed and reimplanted with antibiotic-filled cement. In addition, intravenous antibiotics might be necessary for six to eight weeks, followed by at-home treatment of oral antibiotics. Although these risks may be troubling, many patients experience no complications at all. What’s more, advancements in technology and surgical techniques are increasing the number of successful revision surgeries.