Dislocation of the ball from the joint has always been a possible complication following hip replacement surgery. However, at Emory Orthopaedics, a couple of developments have significantly reduced, if not eliminated, those concerns.
One of these developments is the use of alternative bearing surfaces such as highly cross-linked polyethylene—a super-wear-resistant plastic—which enables surgeons to use larger-diameter balls (femoral heads) in the hip joint. The new, thinner bearing surfaces allow for larger-diameter femoral heads, making the hip intrinsically more stable.
Another development that has significantly increased hip stability is recognition of the importance of reconstructing the ligamentous capsule of the hip joint to its appropriate anatomic position at the completion of the hip replacement. The hip is held in place by the soft tissue around the hip—the capsule, the ligaments, and the tendons. If these are not put back in an anatomic position (i.e., where they came from), the hip will have a greater chance of dislocation.
At Emory Orthopaedics, what these developments mean is that we have become more comfortable allowing our patients to resume natural activities earlier after surgery. Traditionally, patients were told they shouldn’t bend their hip more than 90 degrees, shouldn’t cross their legs, should use an elevated toilet seat, etc. for up to three months following surgery. Patients were apprehensive about dislocating their hip. But with these new materials and improved methods, for most patients we’ve stopped using those restrictions in the early post-op period. Now we feel confident telling patients that they can sit however they’d like to, bend their hips, and so on. They can go straight to enjoying their new and improved hip.
Have you had or are you going to have joint capsule reconstruction surgery? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.
About Dr. Roberson
James R. Roberson, MD, chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics and professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, specializes in treating hip and knee arthritis and has performed more than 10,000 hip and knee replacements over the course of his career. Dr. Roberson has practiced at Emory since 1982.