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Revision Total Hip Replacement

This webpage will give you information about a revision total hip replacement.  If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional. 

What is a revision total hip replacement?

A revision total hip replacement is an operation to take out the old hip replacement and put in a new one.

A hip replacement can fail for the following reasons.

  • Wearing out of the artificial ball-and-socket joint.
  • Infection in the hip replacement.
  • Dislocation.
  • Fracture of the thighbone (femur).

What are the benefits of surgery?

If the operation is successful, you should be able to walk better and do more of your normal activities.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

If your symptoms are mild, you may decide to watch and wait for a while.

If you have an infection, antibiotics can sometimes stop the hip replacement failing.

If your hip replacement keeps coming out of joint, you can wear a brace.

If you have a fracture, you can sometimes be treated with traction.

What does the operation involve?

A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible.

Your surgeon will make a cut on the side of your hip. They will remove your hip replacement and any cement.

Your surgeon will put in a new hip replacement. The hip replacement is fixed into the bone using an acrylic cement or special coatings on the hip replacement that bond directly to the bone.

The type of surgery you need can be more complicated if the bone is thin or broken, or if you have an infection (see figure 1)


Revision hip replacement.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Chest infection
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

2 Specific complications of this operation

  • Split in the femur
  • Damage to nerves around the hip
  • Damage to blood vessels around the hip
  • Infection in the hip
  • Loosening
  • Bone forming in muscles around the hip replacement
  • Dislocation
  • Leg length difference
  • Death

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after five to ten days.

You will need to use crutches or walking sticks for a few weeks.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Most people make a good recovery and most revision total hip replacements work well. It is important to follow the advice your physiotherapist gives you about exercises to strengthen your hip muscles.


A revision total hip replacement can fail with time.


If your original hip replacement fails, you can usually have another operation to do the hip replacement again. If this revision operation is successful, you should be able to continue many of your normal activities.


Author: Mr Stephen Milner DM FRCS (Tr. & Orth.)

Illustrations: Mr Stephen Milner DM FRCS (Tr. & Orth.)

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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