The aim is to replace the ball of your hip joint (head of femur) with an artificial metal ball. This replaces half the hip joint, not the socket of the pelvis. This is called a hemi-arthroplasty.
The operation will stop your leg hurting. If you were able to walk prior to the fracture, you should be able to walk after your operation. You can put weight on your leg immediately.
Are there any alternatives?
If you are fit enough for surgery there are no real alternatives to having this operation.
A smaller operation just to screw the fracture together may be possible. The fracture may be further down the neck of the femur than normal, so there might be enough blood running to the head for healing.
Replacing the socket of the hip joint (acetabulum), as well as the head of the femur, may be needed if the joint is already very worn. This is called a total hip replacement or THR for short.
These options are only considered in the minority of patients.
If you are not fit enough for surgery, we can treat you without surgery. This will mean bed rest and traction. Traction means using a splint that pulls on the femur to keep it in place in the hope of the fracture healing over 2 months or so.
What if you do nothing?
If you do not have an operation you may suffer one of the serious complications that results from staying in bed for a long time. These complications include pressure sores, pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs). These complications can be fatal.
Without an operation your hip joint would not be normal and although the pain may go, your leg would be shorter and your walking would be poor.
Who should have it done?
If your hip is broken and you are fit enough for surgery, you ought to have an operation.
Who should not have it done?
If you suffer from major medical problems, these should be sorted out before you have the operation. These problems include irregular heart rhythms and breathing problems.
Author: Mr Boyd Goldie MBBS FRCS BSC DHMSA. Consultant in orthopaedics & trauma.
© Dumas Ltd 2006