Hip Revision

You may have had your hip replaced after an injury or to treat arthritis or bone disease. Newer artificial hips tend to last about fifteen to twenty years. Most people never have to worry about having a hip revision, or second replacement. However, if you’ve had your artificial hip for a number of years, you may be wondering if it needs to be replaced. The surgery to replace an artificial joint is called a revision.

Reasons for Hip Revision

Your hip joint is located between your pelvis and your thigh bone, or femur. The three main parts of your femur are the head, neck, and shaft. The head of your femur is shaped like a ball and fits into a socket on your pelvis. This socket is called your acetabulum. Your acetabulum is lined with a flexible tissue called cartilage. Your femoral head has a cap made of cartilage.

The traditional artificial hip implant replaces the head and neck of your femur. A stem is inserted into the shaft of your femur to help hold the device in place. In most cases, the acetabulum is also replaced. If your acetabulum is not replaced, an insert is put in to replace the cartilage around your acetabulum. Hip resurfacing requires removing only a small amount of bone from the head of your femur. A round cap goes over the remaining head of your femur. A small stem is then inserted into its neck.

Over time, the mechanical parts of any artificial hip wear out and loosen. The bone around the implant may also become damaged. When either of these happens, you may need to have the joint replaced. If you start to have pain or limited movement in your hip, you may need a hip replacement. You also may need a hip replacement if your implant gets infected, or if you break or dislocate your hip.

You’re more likely to need a revision if you were young when you had your hip replaced, You’re also more likely to need a hip revision if you have rheumatoid arthritis, or take part in high-impact activities. If you had a traditional artificial hip implant, you may be more likely to need a revision.


Some of the symptoms you might have include:

  • Pain
  • Difficulty walking, and
  • Deformity

You may not experience any symptoms at all.

If you’re having symptoms, or if you’ve had your implant for a long time and have concerns, talk with your provider. X-rays are one of the best ways to tell if you need a hip revision. X-rays can show implant wear or movement, joint loosening, or hip fracture or dislocation.


If you need a hip revision, you’ll need to have surgery. The old implant will be removed and replaced with a new one.

Once your surgery is complete, you will need therapy. You’ll generally be encouraged to get out of bed and start walking with help a day or so after surgery. A physical therapist will work with you to help you strengthen your leg and get you moving again. The goal is to help you regain your mobility and independence.

Be sure to follow your physical therapist’s instructions for getting around, sitting, and bending over, so that you don’t injure your new hip. Also make sure that clutter and any other tripping hazards at home are out of your way.

Things to Remember

  1. Most people who have their hips replaced will never need a revision.
  2. You may need a revision if your implant has worn out, loosened, moved, or become infected.
  3. Symptoms that may mean you need a hip revision include pain, difficulty walking, and deformity.

If you’ve had your hip replaced and you’re concerned about needing a revision, talk with your provider. Together you can come up with a plan for the future.

What We Have Learned

  1. X-rays are one of the best ways to figure out if you need a hip revision. True or False?
    The answer is True. X-rays can show implant wear or movement, joint loosening, or hip fracture or dislocation.

  2. You’re less likely to need a revision if you were young when you had your hip replaced. True or False?
    The answer is False. The mechanical parts of the original implant wear out or loosen over time.