Partial Hip Replacement

The hip joint attaches the leg to the pelvis. The joint moves and supports you when you walk. The top of the thighbone (femoral head) is in the shape of a ball. Part of the lower pelvis (acetabulum) forms a cup-shaped socket. The ball and socket are attached with bands called ligaments. Smooth tissue (cartilage) lines the surface of the ball and socket to keep the joint cushioned and to help it move. Lubricating fluid (synovial fluid) also covers joint surfaces to keep the joint healthy.

A partial hip replacement most often refers to a surgery to replace only the ball part of the joint. A man-made metal material (prosthesis) replaces the worn femoral head. This surgery is often performed to alleviate the pain of arthritis or a break (fracture). It is most commonly performed for a fractured hip.


  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding problems or blood clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.


As with any surgery, complications may occur. However, they can usually be managed by your caregiver. General surgical complications may include:

  • Reaction to anesthesia.

  • Damage to surrounding nerves, tissues, or structures.

  • Infection.

  • Blood clot.

  • Bleeding.

  • Scarring.

Complications related to this surgery may include:

  • Prosthesis not staying attached to the bone.

  • Joint dislocation.

  • Continued stiffness or loss of mobility.

  • Continued pain.


It is important to follow your caregiver's instructions prior to your surgery to avoid complications. Steps before your surgery may include:

  • Physical exam, blood and urine tests, X-rays, a computerized magnetic scan (MRI), bone scans, or heart tests (cardiogram or chest X-ray).

  • Your caregiver will review with you the surgery, the anesthesia being used, and what to expect after the surgery.

You may be asked to:

  • Stop taking certain medicines for several days prior to your surgery, such as blood thinners (including aspirin). Your caregiver will let you know which medicines you may continue.

  • Lose weight.

  • Seek treatment for any dental conditions.

  • Avoid eating and drinking at least 8 hours before the surgery. This will help you avoid complications from anesthesia.

  • Take an antibacterial shower the night before or the morning of the surgery.

  • Quit smoking, if this applies. Smoking increases the chances of a healing problem after your surgery. If you are thinking about quitting, ask your surgeon how long before the surgery you should stop smoking. Ask your primary caregiver about approaches to help you stop. This can include medicines.

  • Arrange for someone to help you with activities during recovery. Talk with your caregiver about the need for extended care in a facility.


The surgery is done after you are given medicine that makes you sleep (general anesthetic) or medicine that makes you numb from the waist down (spinal anesthetic). You will be asleep and will not feel any pain. The surgeon will make a cut (incision) in the hip to access the joint. The top of the thighbone that contains the ball is removed. The surgeon secures a new prosthetic ball joint into the healthy socket. The nearby bone may grow into the prosthesis to hold it in place, or cement (methacrylate) may be used. The incision is closed with stitches (sutures). The surgery will take several hours to complete.


  • You will most likely be in the hospital for 2 to 4 days following surgery.

  • You will need to lie in bed and only move as directed.

  • Caregivers will help you manage pain and swelling with medicines.

  • You will be asked to perform breathing exercises.

  • A splint or brace may be applied to the hip.

  • You will learn specific exercises and how to walk with support. This happens within hours after surgery or the following day. A physical therapist will help you.

  • You will need to follow your caregiver's instructions for home care after surgery.

  • Recovery generally takes 3 to 6 months.

  • You may be asked to limit how often you bend at the waist for 6 weeks.