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What are the risks?

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks. Let's review each potential complication in more detail.

Injuries to the large nerves or blood vessels around your hip:

  • Very uncommon - occurs less than 1% of the time
  • Can result in permanent injury


Infection is one of the most severe complications after hip arthroplasty, though it is uncommon (it occurs approximately 0.5% to 1.5% of the time)

  • Can occur around the time of surgery or many years after the surgery
  • The treatment is complex but the incidence is quite low
  • We recommend taking antibiotics by mouth for dental work or urologic procedures if you have a joint replacement

Blood clots:

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot in your legs
  • Pulmonary Embolism can occur when a blood clot travels to your lungs
  • Patients who undergo a hip arthroplasty are at increased risk, however pulmonary embolism typically occurs only in about 1%-3% of patients
  • Death from a pulmonary embolism can occur in 1 or 2 patients out of 1,000 after hip replacement
  • All patients typically take medication after surgery to help reduce the likelihood of blood clot formation. Discuss these medications with your surgeon
  • Most of the increased risk for blood clot in the legs or to the lungs is in the first 6 weeks after surgery

Persistent pain:

Persistent pain is not common in hip arthroplasty patients, perhaps 5% or less of patients experience this.

Some patients will experience a leg length difference after a hip replacement:

  • Sometimes it is necessary to lengthen the leg in order to improve the stability of the hip so that it will not come out of joint or dislocate
  • In most cases the difference is relatively small, a quarter inch or less, but occasionally can be up to half an inch
  • Can be addressed with a shoe lift on the short side, though this is uncommon


2% to 3% of patients will continue to limp after hip arthroplasty.


  • Occurs approximately 3% of the time
  • More common in women due to the generally smaller muscle mass around the hip
  • Does not typically require an incision or extensive surgical procedure
  • Rarely, dislocation may happen multiple times which can require additional surgery
  • The incidence of recurrent dislocations is approximately 1% after hip arthroplasty

Wear or loosening of the pieces over time

  • Up to 85% of patients will have their hip replacement functioning after 15 years
  • Some arthroplasties will fail sooner than we would like 
  • Even if your hip arthroplasties wear or become loose, there is good potential for repairing the joint and having good function after the repair