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Hip Surgery - Orthopaedics

Procedure Summary
Estimated time of arrival 1 Week prior to surgery
Duration of hospital stay 5-7 Days
Estimated length of stay in Cape Town Minimum 6 Weeks
Where to stay
If you have been considering hip replacement surgery abroad, then it is beneficial to know all the associated techniques and risks related to this complicate procedure. The hip joint is usually replaced due to a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, a degeneration of the joint or avascular necrosis (insufficient blood supply to the ”ball” of the hip). Your surgeon will decide which type of hip replacement you require depending on your diagnosis. Your age, activity level, weight, as well as the strength and state of the hip to be replaced are all deciding factors.

Based on these factors, your surgeon will involve you in deciding on the best prosthetic implant to use. He may choose to either do a hip resurfacing or a total hip replacement. There are various types of bearing surfaces available (polyethylene, ceramic, titanium and cobalt-chrome) as well as the option of a cemented or un-cemented prosthesis. When deciding on your prosthesis, your surgeon will consider your specific needs as well as the cost.

In order to make this decision, the surgeon will need to see your X-rays and your completed questionnaire. You will also have an opportunity to communicate directly with the surgeon. The surgeon will also discuss the risks of surgery with you. A well-documented risk associated with hip surgery is the development of a DVT (blood clot in the calf). This risk can be further increased after a lengthy plane ride. For these reasons, the surgeon will require you to arrive in South Africa at least ten days prior to your surgery. You will also receive daily drug treatments post-operatively to prevent the development of a DVT.

With hip replacement surgery there is also the possibility of patients requiring one or two units of blood during or after hip surgery. While South Africa has very stringent safety standards for blood transfusions, you may choose to rather donate your own blood prior to the surgery. In this case you should plan to arrive in Cape Town two weeks prior to your surgery.

Once you've arrived in Cape Town you will undergo a pre-operative medical evaluation. This will include:
  • Evaluation by the orthopaedic surgeon who will assess your fitness for the surgery as well as explain the post-operative rehabilitation process.

  • Evaluation by a specialist physician may be necessary to assess your fitness for surgery and adjust any chronic medication that you are taking. The physician will also be involved in your post-operative care should it be necessary.

  • Evaluation by your anaesthetist where the anaesthetic and post-operative pain control will be discussed with you.

It is standard procedure for patients to spend a day or two in intensive care after hip replacement surgery. You will then be moved to a private room where you will spend another four to seven days depending on the progress of your recovery. During your hospital stay, you will participate in daily physiotherapy during which your attending physiotherapist will help you to get up and walking again, teaching you all the dos and don'ts for a full recovery. You will also be provided with the most appropriate walking aid for your needs.

Once discharged from hospital, you will continue to recover at your hotel or guest house. If you still need nursing help or physiotherapy, these services will be provided to you at wherever you're staying. As this is a major surgery, we strongly recommend that a loved one accompany you on your trip, as you will need help during your initial recovery.

You will need to take it easy for about another four weeks before you will be able to fly home (in other words, you will be in South Africa for approximately eight weeks). We will assist you in making sure that you receive the very best care from the airline on your flight home.

We realise that seven to eight weeks away from home after having surgery can be a long time. For that reason, we make sure that your stay will be in luxurious, comfortable medical accommodation with excellent personal service; affording you such peaceful diversions as libraries, DVDs, beautiful garden settings or sea views. Prior to your surgery we will organise day tours as you should take the time to enjoy the beauties of our wonderful city and winelands. Once you are past the initial recovery stages, we will also organise activities appropriate to your physical ability. We will go out of our way to make this an extremely pleasant experience. You will return home not only with a new hip joint, but relaxed and rested after your surgery in Cape Town and with wonderful memories to boot.

A Note on Hip Resurfacing Surgery

Patients with good bone strength, who are younger and more active, are candidates for Hip Resurfacing Surgery. Your surgeon will discuss this option with you should you be an appropriate candidate. This surgery is different from a total hip replacement in that the “ball and socket” are resurfaced with metal components, not replaced. These patients are able to return to high-demand physical activity once they have recovered. This surgery has been performed very successfully in South Africa for many years. The advantage of this procedure is that your post-operative recovery is faster and less restrictive. If you are a candidate for resurfacing, we will advise you on the length of time you need to stay in South Africa after your hip surgery, as it will most likely be for a shorter duration.

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