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Preventing Hip Replacement Complications

As with any major surgical procedure, post-operative complications can occur following total hip replacement surgery. Below is a list of some of the more common complications that can occur after hip replacement surgery. This list is not meant to be all inclusive.


This condition, also commonly referred to as deep vein thrombosis, occurs when blood clots are formed in the large veins of the legs. In some cases, these clots can become dislodged from the veins, travel through the circulatory system, and become stuck in the critical arteries of the lungs. This scenario, called a pulmonary embolism, is a serious medical condition.

The following steps may be taken by you and your physician to avoid or prevent thrombophlebitis:

  • Adhere strictly to the protocol of Lovenox prescribed by your physician. Do not discontinue without first checking with your physician.
  • Wear your TED hose for at least two weeks after surgery.
  • Elevate the affected foot to prevent swelling.
  • Perform foot and ankle exercises to optimize blood flow.
  • If you develop swelling, redness, pain and/or tenderness in the calf muscle, report these symptoms immediately to your physician.


Infections occur in a small percentage of patients undergoing hip replacement surgery. Unfortunately, infections can occur even when every effort is made to prevent them.

The following steps may help to minimize the risk of post-operative infections:

  • Closely monitor the incision and immediately report any signs of redness, swelling, tenderness, drainage, foul odor, increasing pain, or persistent fever.
  • Always wash your hand before and after handling your incision site, especially when the staples are still in place.


A possible side effect of surgery is the development of pneumonia.

The following steps may help minimize the risk:

  • Deep Breathing Exercises: A simple analogy to illustrate proper deep breathing is to: “smell the roses...and blow out the candles.” In other words, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth at a slow and controlled rate. A simple rule of thumb may be to perform these deep breathing exercises 8-10 times every waking hour.
  • Coughing: This activity helps to loosen the secretions in your lungs and excrete them from your pulmonary system.
  • Incentive Spirometer: This simple device provides visual feedback while performing deep breathing exercises. Your nurse or respiratory specialist will demonstrate the proper technique.

Hip Dislocation

One of the most common problems following total hip replacement is hip dislocation or subluxation. Because the prosthetic ball and socket are smaller than the natural anatomy, the ball can become dislodged from the socket if the hip is placed in certain positions. Remember to avoid extending your leg back and externally rotating it at the same time. Also keep in mind while sitting to avoid extreme internal rotation of the affected leg.

We hope you have found the information presented here informative. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our office and we will be happy to assist you in any way we can.

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Last Modified: November 5, 2020