The surgeon will usually cut the leg muscles to provide better access to the hip joint, but this can be avoided if your child is unfit or overweight.
The operation takes between 2 to 3 hours. The hip replacement surgery for a child can be a painful one since the child does not have any pain tolerance. The surgery is essential to restore the hip joint’s function and avoid further damage to your child. Your child may need to stay in the hospital for several days afterward.
Each child’s recovery time is different, so you can’t say precisely how long your child will be out of action. However, after about six weeks, your child should be able to return to school, although they should avoid strenuous exercise for up to a year afterward.
Your child’s new hip joint can wear out in later life. However, most children grow out of their joints by reaching their late teens.
Steps Involved in Hip Replacement
First, during a hip replacement, the surgeon will make an incision (cut) on the side of the thigh and one in the groin area. These are then used to gain access to the joint.
The head of the femur (the ball part of the thigh bone) is then removed using special surgical tools, while the surgeons keep the hip joint stable with metal pins and a metal bar that acts as a spacer between both legs bones (tibia and femur). This spacer is called an inter-fixator device or Ilizarov frame. It is attached to both leg bones with wires and pins and helps maintain alignment of the joint during healing.
In children, the hip is replaced with a combination of metal, plastic, and bone. The metal component is the femoral stem, which fits into the femur. This piece is made of a combination of cobalt-chromium and titanium.
The plastic component is the acetabular cup, which fits into the pelvis. This piece is made of polyethylene plastic. The acetabular cup is inserted into the pelvic socket before surgery.
Part of the plastic acetabulum remains outside the pelvis to absorb shock and anchor the femoral stem during hip movements. A small amount of bone from another part of the body may stabilize the stem in place during surgery. Surgeons discuss using a “bloodless” technique when this type of graft is used because it does not require removing any bone from your child’s body. The small amount of bone used for this purpose does not affect their long-term bone health or growth.
While having Hip Replacement surgery as an adult can be scary, imagine the fear that the child experiences. The hospital staff needs to take care of the child to keep them safe and happy during this procedure. The child might need extra attention and care if they are nervous or scared while recovering from the procedure. But one thing is for sure, just like every adult that undergoes hip replacement surgery, a child will bounce back quickly in time and be back to enjoying life.