What is a hemiarthroplasty?
A hemiarthroplasty is a half of a joint replacement. “Hemi-“means half and “-arthroplasty” means joint replacement. A hemiarthroplasty is a rare surgery that is only performed under unique circumstances. Replacing half of a hip joint is usually done after rare traumatic injury in which the femoral head is fractured. This can be achieved in high impact falls where the hip has become displaced and fractured. Hip fractures are usually outside of the socket in the joint capsule, between the greater and lesser trochanter, or in the femur.
Do I need a hemiarthroplasty?
If you are asking the question do I need a hemiarthroplasty the answer is most likely no. You may be having hip pain from degenerative conditions such as arthritis and would need to see an orthopedic specialist for management of the condition and possibly after all else fails a total hip replacement. A hemiarthroplasty is a emergency condition specific to a very rare type of hip fracture. If you need a hemiarthroplasty there is a good chance that you found out about it in an emergency room.
Hemiarthroplasty: the procedure
During a hip hemiarthroplasty, an incision is made over the outside of the hip. The fractured ball (femoral head) is removed and replaced with an implant. In a normal hip replacement surgery, the socket of the pelvis would also be replaced. This can be done in patients with pre-existing arthritis of the hip, but in most cases of femoral neck fractures the socket is left alone. The prosthetic stem can be cemented into the bone in patients with thinner, more osteoporotic bone, or press-fit into patients with better bone quality.
Recovery from a hemiarthroplasty
After you receive a hemiarthroplasty you will recover for a few days in the hospital. You will then be discharged from the facility and you will be transferred to a skilled nursing facility or allowed to go home. Physical therapy will start when you are still in hospital and will continue after you leave. It is a long road to recovery from an injury of this nature and some people may never be able to return to their previous lifestyle without modification. High impact activity will probably need to be limited as well as heavy weight bearing. Surgeries of this magnitude depend just as much on the care after your surgery as the skill of your surgeon. It is important to follow all post-operative instructions, diligently attend physical therapy as prescribed, and do not miss your follow up doctor appointments. The consequences of non-compliance in joint surgeries can be significant and long lasting.