We know that patients facing any joint replacement procedure are at increased risk of complications or problems. These adverse events can occur because of something that happens in the operating room or afterwards. The risk of infection, poor wound healing, blood clots, heart attack, and/or stroke increases simply by having major surgery. Other medical problems (referred to as comorbidities) also increase the risk of serious problems associated with the procedure.
According to a recent study, the presence of certain risk factors increases the chances of periprosthetic infection (around the implant) and even death after a hip replacement. In the first 90-days after surgery, up to one per cent of patients die as a result of complications. A slightly higher percentage (up to two per cent) of patients develops an infection in or around the implant during the first 10 years after surgery.
Besides hypertension, heart disease, high levels of cholesterol, and a past bout with cancer head the list of comorbidities that matter for hip replacement patients. And the list goes on: heart arrhythmias, lung disease, urinary tract infection, diabetes, obesity, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and dementiahave been found in patients having a total hip replacement.
The same study already mentioned, pinpointed specific isk factors linked with death in the first three months following hip replacement. At the top of the list was the presence of metastatic cancer followed by dementia and congestive heart failure. Many patients had more than one health concern. The risk of combined medical conditions on mortality was not calculated but it is likely that having two of these conditions raises the risk even more.
The surgeons involved in this study agree that the numbers of patients who die in the first 90-days or who develop a hip joint infection in the first 10 years are small but important. That may be why you heard about it on television.
If you ever become a patient in the one to two per cent who develops these serious problems, it becomes a matter of great importance. Surgeons’ attention to these matters is appreciated by all patients undergoing hip replacement.