What is total hip replacement?

Total hip replacement (THR) is an advanced surgical procedure that removes the ball and socket parts of the hip joint and replaces them with metal and plastic implants. Often recommended for animals with advanced osteoarthritis or dysplasia, the goal of hip replacement surgery is to improve your pet’s quality of life, offering them pain relief and allowing them to maintain an active lifestyle.

When is total hip replacement needed?

Total hip replacement is offered for animals that struggle with painful hip conditions, and will only be recommended if other surgical techniques or rehabilitation methods have failed to manage your pet’s pain. Because hip dysplasia is most common in large dog breeds, total hip replacement (THR) is most commonly performed in these breeds. However, the condition can also affect cats and small dogs who can also benefit greatly from hip replacement.



What does hip replacement surgery involve?

Animals have to be evaluated to see if they are suitable for total hip replacement surgery. If the surgery is considered a viable option, your pet will be measured for their prosthesis, using detailed images of their diseased and non-diseased hip from the animal’s CT scans.

The surgery is performed through a small incision directly over the hip, and involves removing the degenerated femoral head (ball) and acetabulum (socket), replacing them with artificial components. The implants can be attached to the bone using cement or through a cementless system, depending on which best suits your pet. The cementless system relies on bone ingrowth into the implant for permanent fixation.

What are the risks?

Fortunately, the success rate for total hip replacement surgery is very high, with over 95% of animals having excellent limb function after recovery. However, as with any major surgery, there are possible complications. The most common problem is dislocation of the prosthesis, which may require a second operation.

Although a long and complicated procedure, total hip replacement has the potential to provide your pet with a pain-free, normal hip joint, allowing them to return to a happy and active lifestyle.