Chances are that you’re happy with your hip replacement. After all, the success rate for reduced pain after the procedure is about 95%, and ten years later, there’s still over 90% patient satisfaction. Hip replacement surgery returns pain-free mobility for over 300,000 Americans each year.
With such excellent results, post-procedure complications remain rare. However, the reality is that hip replacement patients often become elderly during the working life of their prosthetic joint, and natural age-related deterioration may become a challenge. The bone around the artificial hip components may become more brittle with age or medical conditions, leading to damage called a periprosthetic hip fracture.
Most periprosthetic hip fractures happen years into your artificial hip’s service life, and there may still be years of good function ahead, but the fracture itself is a serious complication that usually requires surgery. When you’re dealing with a bone break near a hip prosthesis, you need the services of an internationally trained and recognized orthopedic trauma surgeon, like Dr. Eric E. Johnson in Los Angeles. Call Dr. Johnson’s practice immediately if you’ve experienced a periprosthetic hip fracture.
Fracture after total hip replacement
Like many hip fractures, one of the most common causes of bone breaks after hip replacement is a fall that puts a strain on the femur and the hip joint. Most periprosthetic breaks involve the stem of the artificial hip, the anchor that secures the ball portion of the joint into the top of the femur. The stem can also loosen over time, particularly if the bone starts to thin out.
If you have a periprosthetic fracture of the hip, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg
- Severe pain in your hip and thigh areas
- Discoloration, bruising or swelling in the hip
- The injured leg seems deformed or shorter than the uninjured leg
Diagnosing a periprosthetic hip fracture
If your fracture results from a fall, you’ll likely experience intense pain. Dr. Johnson confirms the break with an examination and diagnostic imaging. This typically uses X-rays, but three-dimensional computed tomography (CT) scans may also help the process.
Key information includes current bone condition, identifying bone fragments, and measuring any bone displacement from its normal position. From this data, Dr. Johnson develops a surgical plan to repair the damage and protect your artificial joint.
Repairing a periprosthetic fracture
Treatment of a fracture around hip replacement components depends on a balance of factors, including your current health. You’ll probably need surgery, so the location of the fracture and the quality of the natural bone tissue likely determine the best approach. Generally, there are three ways to address the injury and promote healing.
Dr. Johnson may choose joint revision if your current implant stem becomes loose. This is essentially a replacement of the original hip prosthetics, and you may require a longer stem to extend the interface between bone and implant.
When the femur stem remains firmly in place, Dr. Johnson may choose a procedure called an open reduction and internal fixation. This uses a variety of methods to reposition and secure bone fragments. Bone grafts may also supplement any weak spots.
Dr. Johnson can also combine both procedures, depending on the nature of your fracture. For any concerns you have about hip joint issues, contact Dr. Johnson’s office at 424-309-1492 to schedule a consultation.