The complication rate following hip replacement surgery is low. Serious complications, such as joint infection, occur in fewer than 2% of patients. Major medical complications, such as heart attack or stroke, occur even less frequently. However, chronic illnesses may increase the potential for complications. Although uncommon, when these complications occur they can prolong or limit full recovery.
Blood clots in the leg veins or pelvis are the most common complication of hip replacement surgery. You will be prescribed one or more measures to prevent blood clots from forming in your leg veins or, if they do form, measures to prevent them from becoming symptomatic. These measures may include special support hose, inflatable leg coverings, ankle pump exercises, and blood thinners.
Leg-length inequality may occur or may become or seem worse after hip replacement. Your orthopaedic surgeon will take this into account, in addition to other issues, including the stability and biomechanics of the hip. Some patients may feel more comfortable with a shoe lift after surgery.
Other complications such as dislocation, nerve and blood vessel injury, bleeding, fracture, and stiffness can occur. In a small number of patients, some pain can continue or new pain can occur after surgery.