Choosing an experienced surgeon increases the likelihood of a successful hip replacement surgery. In a study examining data from more than 20,000 Medicare recipients who had elective hip replacement surgery,1 researchers found that a surgeon’s experience affected the likelihood that a patient experienced complications requiring a second “revision” surgery. Specifically, the authors found that:

  • Of patients whose surgeons performed 50 or more total hip replacements per year, 0.7% needed a revision surgery.
  • Of patients whose surgeons performed between 6 and 25 total hip replacements per year, 1.3% needed a revision surgery.

The difference in revision surgery rates was observed in the first six months after hip replacement surgery. After that time, no significant differences were seen. The same study found no difference in the revision rates between high-volume and low-volume hospitals.

Patients are entitled to ask a surgeon how often he or she performs hip replacements and about his or her individual success and complication rates.

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Talking to your hip replacement surgeon: setting expectations

In addition to choosing a surgeon with total hip replacement experience, a patient should also choose one with whom they feel comfortable talking. A patient and surgeon should have frank conversations about the time and effort that needs to be put into post-surgical rehabilitation as well as possible short- and long-term outcomes and complications.

Patients with specific goals may want to ask about them. For example:

  • Will surgery eliminate my limp?
  • Will I still need to take pain medication?
  • Will I be able to put on socks and cut my toenails?
  • Will I be able to participate in my favorite sport?
  • Will sex become more comfortable?

Patients who have realistic expectations tend to be more satisfied post-surgery.2,3

References:

  1. Katz JN et al. Association between hospital and surgeon procedure volume and outcomes of total hip replacement in the United States medicare population*. J Bone Joint Surg 83. (2001 Nov);11:1622-1629.
  2. Tugend A. “What did you expect? It makes a difference.” January 13, 2012: The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/14/your-money/the-importance-of-setting-expectations-whether-high-or-low.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 Accessed January 15, 2015.
  3. Scott CE et al.. Patient expectations of arthroplasty of the hip and knee. J Bone Joint Surg Br 94(2012) Jul 7:974-81. PubMed PMID: 22733956. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22733956 Accessed January 15, 2015.
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