At your first consultation, your consultant will ask you about your hip pain, what limits your movement, what you have tried to lessen it, what worked and what didn’t, and how it affects your life.
They will then find out about your general health, medical conditions, current medications, and family history to assess whether you are suitable for surgery.
Lastly, you’ll have a physical examination. Your consultant will watch how you stand and walk, take note of your leg length and how your hip moves, where it hurts and in which positions to get a feel for the hip’s condition.
Depending on tests and imaging results at the consultation or later, your consultant will discuss a management plan with you. It could include painkillers to physiotherapy to get you stronger and improve your condition before surgery.
They may also offer you an injection of anaesthesia or anaesthesia and steroids to reduce the pain. Another option is minimally invasive keyhole surgery, known as hip arthroscopy, to diagnose and treat the pain.
If all these have been tried and no longer work, they may recommend a hip replacement.
Imaging and radiology for hip replacement
Your consultant orthopaedic surgeon will arrange for images such as X-rays, computerised tomography (CT scans) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to be taken. Sometimes, your consultant will ask Reception to send you for an X-ray before you see them.
Mr Shah said: “The first investigation is always an X-ray, and, in most cases, it comes back at the same time as the consultation and is all you need to confirm arthritis.
“If there’s something different or unusual, you might need a CT or MRI. These take longer to be performed than X-rays because they must be processed, checked, validated, and reported, so patients have to return for the results.”
Preparing for hip replacement surgery at The Blackheath Hospital
It helps to start preparing for hip replacement surgery as soon as you give the go-ahead for the operation.
Your consultant’s team will let the hospital know you have a hip replacement on the date and time arranged and send you a confirmation letter.
Next, the pre-assessment team will arrange for you to come into The Blackheath Hospital for tests, such as blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG), to check your heart rhythm and electrical activity and ensure you are fit for surgery.
The pre-assessment team will also contact the occupational health team at the hospital to assess whether your home is suitable when you return. They might ask about the narrowness of your stairs, whether the lift is working if you live in high-rise accommodation, and how low your chairs are.
In the meantime, you should continue to stay active and keep healthy, so you are in as good a condition as you can be for surgery. It will also help your body recover faster.
You will have time to organise someone to look after pets, children, and anyone else you care for and arrange time away from work. We prefer that someone is there at home when you return from surgery because if you fall, have issues, or drop something, someone is around to help.
Pre-operation: the day before
Your consultant’s office will have sent you a second letter detailing what to expect during surgery and advice on how many hours to fast (stop eating and drinking) beforehand and where to report at the hospital.
Patients are often anxious the night before, so many consultants like to phone them to reassure them and answer further questions.
Preparation in hospital
When you arrive for hip replacement surgery at The Blackheath Hospital, you will sign a consent form, and a nurse will show you where to change into a hospital gown.
The anaesthetist will assess you and discuss the anaesthetic, then you’ll go downstairs for surgery.
Mr Shah said: “It’s a well-oiled machine. You follow the signs on the site plan, which we’ll have sent. You turn up, and we take care of you. You don’t need to worry about anything apart from bringing clothes, toiletries and perhaps something like a book to keep yourself occupied during your time at the hospital.”