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Your Visit with the Orthopedic Surgeon
Your orthopedic surgeon will explain the results of your exam, x-rays, and diagnostic tests. He will tell you why surgery is recommended. He will explain the surgical procedure and the outcome you can expect. He will tell you about the risks of having or not having the surgery, the benefits of having the surgery, and the options available to you in place of surgery. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. The more you know, the more confident you will be about doing your part in your treatment and recovery.
Your surgeon will ask you to sign a surgical consent form. This form is a legal paper that says you have been informed about your surgery and the risks you will be taking by having the surgery. By signing this form, you are saying that you understand the risks and agree to have the surgery. Ask your surgeon about any concerns you have before you sign this form.
Getting a Diagnosis
The diagnosis of a degenerative hip joint starts with a complete history and physical examination by your surgeon. Xrays will be taken to determine the how much the joint has degenerated and suggest a cause for the degeneration. Other tests may be needed if there is reason to believe that other conditions are contributing to the degenerative process. An MRI Scan can determine whether avascular necrosis is causing your hip problem. Blood tests may be needed to rule out systemic arthritis or infection in the hip.
Not all hip conditions need a hip replacement as the first treatment. Your surgeon may suggest several alternative treatments to put off replacing the hip.
- Using a cane may help relieve some of your pain and allow you to walk more comfortably.
- Anti-inflammatory medications may reduce the inflammation from the arthritis and reduce your pain.
Most degenerative problems will eventually require replacement of the painful hip joint with an artificial hip joint, called a prosthesis. The decision to go ahead with surgery should be made jointly by you, your family, and your surgeon only after you feel that you understand as much about the procedure as possible.
Questions to Ask Your Surgeon
If you think of other questions later, write them down, then call your surgeon’s office.You probably want to learn as much as you can about your surgery and recovery. The following are questions you can ask your surgeon. You may have others. Try to get your questions answered during your office visit so you know what to expect before surgery.
- How soon should I have surgery?
- Am I a candidate for minimally invasive hip replacement?
- Are there things I can do to get ready for surgery?
- Will I need a check-up from my regular doctor?
- Will I need a blood transfusion? If so, how many units? Can I donate my blood?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- How much pain should I expect right after surgery and how will it be controlled?
- What will the scar look like?
- What are the possible complications of surgery and recovery, and how likely are
they to happen to me?
- What are the long-term and short-term risks of having the surgery?
- What will I be able to do or not do during recovery? Do you think I will need help during the first couple of weeks?
- What are the limitations of my new hip joint? Do I need to follow hip precautions?
- When can I start driving again?
- How long will I be out of work?
- How long should my new hip last?