Orthopedics Hip & Knee Hip Replacement Surgery Print Complications of Hip Replacement Surgery By Jonathan Cluett, MD Updated August 15, 2019 Medically reviewed by a board-certified physician More in Orthopedics Hip & Knee Hip Replacement Surgery Causes of Pain ACL Injury Kneecap (Patella) Conditions Knee Ligament Injuries Knee Replacement Surgery Meniscus Injuries Hip Injuries Surgical Procedures Replacement Implants Sprains & Strains Fractures & Broken Bones Physical Therapy Orthopedic Surgery Osteoporosis Pediatric Orthopedics Sports Injuries Shoulder & Elbow Hand & Wrist Leg, Foot & Ankle Assistive Devices & Orthotics Medication & Injections View All While hip replacement surgery is a safe and effective means of treating severe hip arthritis, not everyone who undergoes the surgery has a perfect result. Failures do occur and often require revision surgery to correct the problem and/or treat the underlying condition. Current research suggests that the failure rate in the U.S. hovers around one percent per year, a strikingly low number. A number of factors are closely associated with hip replacement failure: Male genderObesityMultiple co-existing medical conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, HIV, and cancerUncemented prostheses Lower age (meaning between the ages of 65 and 74) is also seen to increase risk simply because the person has used the prostheses for far longer. The good news is that the vast majority of people find significant pain relief and improvement in mobility after receiving a hip replacement. So speak with your doctor to identify your specific risks prior to surgery. By doing so, you may be able to address some of the modifiable risk factors for losing weight, exercising, and quitting smoking. 1 Unequal Leg Length N. Aubrier/Getty Images After hip replacement surgery, some people may find their leg length has changed. This is sometimes avoidable as deterioration of the surrounding bone may force a surgeon to remove additional bone matter in order to get a more solid fit with the replacement joint. When leg lengths are unequal, people can experience increased pain and muscle fatigue. When the difference is more than a few centimeters, the nerves can become so stretched that numbness and shooting pains can develop. Leg Length Discrepancy After Hip Replacement 2 Joint Dislocation ZEPHYR/Getty Images Dislocation of a hip replacement occurs when the ball becomes dislodged from the socket. Most of these occur as a result of a fall or trauma where the hip joint is internally hyperextended (yanked inward). Fortunately, this complication has become less common in recent years as the design and materials used in hip prostheses continue to improve. In addition, many surgeons are advocating for the use of anterior hip replacement surgery (approached from the front of the hip joint) to maintain the ligament structure that holds the joint together. Dislocation of a Hip Replacement 3 Joint Infections Echo/Getty Images Infection of a hip replacement is a serious problem. While the best efforts are made to avoid infection during an operation, accidental exposure to bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus) does sometimes occur. Infections of this sort need to be treated aggressively. If the infection involves the replaced hip, revision surgery is almost always required. Even with aggressive treatment, multiple surgeries and prolonged antibiotic therapy are often required to fully eradicate an infected hip replacement. 4 Formation of Blood Clots Rolf Ritter / Getty Images Blood clots (thrombi) can sometimes develop in the large veins of the legs following major surgery and may lead to a serious medical condition known as a pulmonary embolism. An embolism occurs when the blood clot causes the blockage of an artery in the lungs. To prevent this from happening, doctors will typically prescribe anti-clotting drugs to prevent platelets from sticking together excessively. Additionally, mechanical devices like compression socks and squeezing boots can keep the blood from pooling in the legs. Walking is also an excellent means of preventing the development of blood clots (thrombosis). How to Treat Blood Clots During and After Surgery Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Dealing with joint pain can cause major disruptions to your day. Sign up and learn how to better take care of your body. Click below and just hit send! Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources Wright, E.; Katz, J.; Baron, J. et al. "Risk factors for revision of primary total hip replacement: Results from a national case-control study." Arthritis Care Res. 2012; 64(12):1879-1885. DOI: 10.1002/acr.21760.