What Are The Complications Following Total Joint Replacement Surgery?
Total joint replacement surgery is generally safe and successful, but it carries some risks and potential complications like any surgery. Complications following total joint replacement surgery may include:
- Infection: Infection is a possible complication after joint replacement surgery. It can occur at the surgical site (superficial infection) or around the implanted joint components (deep infection). Infections may require antibiotics or, in severe cases, surgical intervention to address.
- Blood Clots: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots in the legs is a concern after surgery. Clots can break loose and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially life-threatening pulmonary embolism.
- Implant Loosening: Over time, the artificial joint components may loosen from the bone, leading to pain and instability. Implant loosening may require revision surgery to replace the components.
- Joint Dislocation: In some cases, the replaced joint can dislocate, especially within the first few months after surgery. Patients are usually instructed on specific precautions to avoid dislocation.
- Nerve or Blood Vessel Injury: Nerves and blood vessels near the surgical site can be damaged during the procedure, leading to numbness, weakness, or circulatory issues.
- Periprosthetic Fracture: Fractures around the artificial joint (periprosthetic fractures) can occur, especially in elderly patients with weaker bones.
- Allergic Reaction: In rare cases, some patients may experience an allergic reaction to the materials used in the joint replacement.
- Stiffness and Reduced Range of Motion: Some patients may experience stiffness in the joint, limiting their range of motion.
- Persistent Pain: While joint replacement surgery is intended to relieve pain, some patients may experience constant or new pain after surgery.
- Medical Complications: General medical complications, such as heart or lung problems, can occur following surgery.
Patients are to work closely with their orthopedic surgeon and follow post-operative instructions to reduce the risk of complications. Surgeons take various precautions during surgery to minimize the likelihood of complications, and advances in surgical techniques and implant materials have contributed to improved outcomes for joint replacement surgeries.
Most joint replacement surgeries are successful, providing significant pain relief and improved joint function, allowing patients to return to an active lifestyle. Discussing surgery’s potential risks and benefits with your healthcare team and addressing any concerns before proceeding with joint replacement is crucial.