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Orthopedic specialist examining hip x-ray to see if candidate for hip replacement surgery

Penn Medicine hip replacement surgeons perform hip replacements with advanced techniques for more accurate and precise results. Because we perform a high number of hip replacement surgeries and revisions each year, our surgeries are considered safer and more effective, and they have a very low risk of complications.

The entire team carefully assesses and reviews patient cases at weekly meetings, so we can more accurate diagnose patients and create more personalized treatment plans.

Our Joint Replacement program has been highly successful because we recognize that one size doesn't fit all. It’s important to understand you as an individual and your goals for the future. We encourage and appreciate a good doctor-patient relationship, because the end goal is to get you back to where you were — before the pain set in and before your mobility was affected.

3-D Hip Model

For complex cases, our hip surgeons will use cutting-edge technology to build a three-dimensional model of your hip to help devise an action plan for surgery. The 3-D model will help our surgeons to map dynamic motions of your hip joint, allowing them to perform the proper surgical techniques in the operating room.

Diagnosing for Hip Replacement Surgery

The foundation of a successful treatment plan is an accurate diagnosis. Penn orthopaedic specialists will perform a comprehensive physical examination, take a complete medical history and likely order diagnostic imaging tests to determine if you are a candidate for hip replacement. If hip replacement is an option, our surgeons engage patients in a shared decision-making process that takes into account your personal needs, lifestyle and goals for treatment. Together you will decide if hip replacement surgery is the right choice for you.

Types of Hip Replacements

To understand a hip replacement, it’s important to know how the hip joint works. The hip joint is often described as a ball-and-socket structure due to the joint’s appearance of a ball (femoral head) fitting nicely in a cup-like socket (acetabulum). The ball is located at the top of the thigh bone (femur) and the socket is part of the pelvis. The area where the bones meet is covered by tissue called cartilage which allows the joint to move smoothly.

In a healthy hip, smooth cartilage covers the ends of the thigh bone and pelvis. This allows the ball to guide easily in any direction inside the socket.

In a hip requiring replacement surgery, the worn cartilage no longer serves as a cushion. As the damaged bones rub together, they become rough and cause pain. To reduce pain and improve mobility, a surgeon will replace a worn out or damaged hip with an artificial joint.

Total Hip Replacement

In a total hip replacement, the ball, socket and cartilage are replaced with prosthetics made from a super alloy, plastic or other material.

In the past, the replacement process involved bone cement, whereas now a more durable, cementless implant is available at Penn. This is a biologic process where the living bone holds onto the implant.

Partial Hip Replacement

In a partial hip replacement, we remove and replace the ball of the hip joint but not the socket. The ceramic or metal ball is attached to a metal stem. The stem is set down into the core of the thigh bone (femur). It is firmly fixed in the femur.

Partial hip replacements work best for non-degenerative arthritis injuries. If a fracture develops in the femoral neck, for example, the socket may still be strong, and only the ball will need to be replaced. We typically reserve this option for more active patients.

Bilateral Hip Replacement

Occasionally, a patient may have degenerative joint disease with severe and limiting pain in both hips. If this is the case and we determine that it is safe for you to have both joints replaced at the same time, you will be scheduled for a bilateral hip replacement.

Bilateral hip replacement is a good option for those who do not want to undergo the surgery and postoperative rehabilitation twice.

Revision Surgery

We perform many revisions to hip replacements that patients received in other facilities and did not last as expected. The typical lifespan for an artificial hip joint is 20 years. Over that time period, the artificial hip joint may become damaged due to infection or normal wear and tear, causing it to fit less securely or function less effectively.

If you are having trouble with a previous hip replacement, please contact us for an evaluation.

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