Preparing for Hip Replacement Surgery

If after undergoing an orthopedic evaluation, you and your surgeon decide that hip replacement surgery is the best possible treatment for you, our team of medical experts will provide you with information on how to prepare for the procedure.

Medical Preparations

To prepare for hip replacement surgery, set-up a surgery date with your doctor’s practice assistant in clinic office, and discuss the risks of surgery with the attending physician during an office appointment.

1-2 months before surgery date:

  • Make an appointment with your primary care physician to obtain pre-operative medical clearance, if requested by attending physician (use forms provided).
  • If you plan to be discharged to a nursing/rehabilitation facility in your area, visit the site and check if they take your health insurance. *Note: most patients go home after the surgery.

One month before surgery date:

  • You will receive a letter from your doctor’s Practice Assistant with required pre-surgical appointments (including PREPARE (anesthesia) appointment and Preoperative education class).
  • Obtain and fax all prior medical records and operative notes from prior surgeries to your doctor’s office at (415) 353-2956, if requested.
  • Start taking Slow Fe, which is iron (can be purchased at any drug store), once to twice daily.
  • If blood donation has been recommended for your surgery, your doctor’s practice assistant will give you the blood order form.

Two to three weeks before surgery date:

Attend the required PREPARE (anesthesia) appointment where you will meet with the anesthesiologist or nurse practitioner for pre-surgical work-up including: Review medical history, physical examination, take a blood sample for testing, possible chest x-ray or EKG and sign surgical and blood transfusion consent forms. Bring a medication list, or all your medication bottles with you.

Attend recommended preoperative education class given by Sue Klarquist, nurse practitioner. Bring your family or care giver to this class, as well as any questions you have. You will receive prescriptions for Lovenox or Colace (take after surgery) at this visit. Bring these prescriptions ASAP to your local pharmacy. If you have chosen to donate blood for your surgery, this is the time to donate the last unit.

Two weeks before surgery:

You should stop taking the following medications with the approval of your rheumatologist: Methotrexate, Humira, Enbrel, Remicade or Plaquinil.

One week before surgery:

You should stop taking all aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Aleve, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Advil and Naproxen. These medications may thin your blood and increase the amount of blood loss during surgery. You should also stop taking anticoagulant medications, such as Plavix, Heparin and any blood thinners after checking with your internist or cardiologist. Also, stop taking supplements such as vitamin E, gingko biloba, ginseng, glucosamine and fish oil. You may take any Tylenol (acetaminophen) product or Celebrex until the day of surgery.

1-3 days before surgery:

The prepare clinic staff will tell you what time to arrive at the hospital and the time of your surgery. If you have not heard from UCSF by 3 p.m. prior to your day of surgery, please call (415) 353-1099. A practice assistant will call you the business day prior to surgery to confirm your time of arrival for your surgery.

Blood Donation

Total hip replacement surgery can result in blood loss that may require a blood transfusion. Therefore, it is suggested that you donate your own blood before surgery. If you are unable to donate blood for yourself, your family or friends may donate for you. They must have the same blood type and meet criteria for donation. Otherwise, banked blood is available. Banked blood, which is from volunteers, is screened for viral diseases and is matched to your blood type.

If you are having surgery due to an infected prosthesis, you are not allowed to donate your own blood for surgery. In these cases, you must have family or friends donate blood or receive blood from a volunteer.

If blood donation has been recommended for your surgery, your doctor's practice assistant will give you the blood order form. Donate your first unit of blood no earlier than 35 days before surgery. Donate the first unit of blood four weeks before your surgery, and donate second unit of blood three weeks before your surgery. Note: UCSF Blood Bank is a drop-in clinic. Blood donation can be done at a local Red Cross facility as well.

Dental Evaluation

Significant dental conditions and problems should be treated prior to surgery. Although uncommon, an infection can occur as a result of these dental procedures if bacteria enter your bloodstream. If necessary, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist before your joint replacement surgery to treat any problems you may have.


Once your surgery has been scheduled, call your insurance company to inform your health plan of your upcoming procedure. You'll need to provide the date of your surgery, procedure type and the phone number for our office. You should discuss the type of post-surgery services your insurance plan covers, such as rehabilitation hospital care and home physical therapy, as well as equipment, such as a commode and walker.

Home Preparations

It is recommended that you plan for your return home prior to your admission to the hospital so that you are as comfortable as possible. Organize a friend or family member to pick you up from the hospital on the day of your discharge. Organize friends, family or neighbors to check in on your after your surgery or to be available to help, if needed. We recommend a family member or friend be with you 24 hours a day for the first week. In addition, make sure you have rides planned from the hospital and to all follow-up visits, which will be at three, six and 12 weeks after surgery.

If you have crutches or a walker, bring them to the hospital. If you don't already have walking aids, let us know and we will help you to either rent or purchase these and other recommended devices at the hospital, such as a raised toilet seat, bedside commode, tub chair and stock aid.

After surgery you will need help caring for yourself at home. Figure out ahead of time who will be able to assist you and talk with them about your concerns. If no one is available to care for you, please let us know and a discharge-planning nurse can help make arrangements for skilled nursing or caregivers to help you at home.

In addition, arranging meals that can be stored and frozen and stocking up on prepared foods will eliminate extra work for your caregiver. It also is highly recommended that you organize your home with safety features to prevent accidents. These include making pathways in crowded areas, eliminating all throw rugs, securing extension cords and telephone cords strung across the floor, securing handrails in your bathtub and stairways, and placing all needed items at a level so that you can easily reach them. You also should be sure that your house is equipped with the following:

  • Raised toilet seat
  • Stable shower bench or chair for bathing
  • Long-handled sponge or shower hose
  • Reaching device that will allow you to grab objects without bending your hip
  • Firm pillows to sit on that keep your knees lower than your hips

Pack a small suitcase for your hospital stay that includes: a list of all medications you are taking, personal hygiene items, comfortable and loose clothing, a knee-length robe and slip-on shoes. Please leave all of your valuables at home, including jewelry, wallet and watches. It is not necessary to bring your actual medications, however do bring a list of your medications and their dosages. The hospital will provide you with your medications. Also, we recommend you to bring a phone card.

The Day Before Surgery

Our hospital staff will call to notify you of your surgery and scheduled admission times. The night before your surgery, have a light meal for dinner with no alcohol. Do not have anything to eat or drink after midnight. Please take a shower or bath and wash your body thoroughly, using anti-bacterial soap the night before or the morning of surgery. Try to rest and go to bed early.

The morning of surgery, you may take your routine medication, as instructed by PREPARE staff, with a small sip of water. You may also take Tylenol or your routine narcotic pain medication with a small sip of water.

More Information


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Arthritis & Joint Replacement Center
1500 Owens St., Suite 430
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353–2808
Fax: (415) 885–3862

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