Hip Replacement

The hip is one of the biggest working joints of the body. Hip problems can seriously impact your entire body and your ability to perform normal activities.

When the joint is severely damaged due to arthritis or other problems, hip replacement surgery may be recommended. Each year, more than 168,000 Americans undergo joint replacement surgery for a new hip. This procedure can greatly improve your quality of life by relieving pain associated with a hip problem, allowing you to live a fuller, more active life.

Orthopedic surgeons at UCSF Medical Center have expertise in joint replacement surgery, called arthroplasty, of the hip, knee and shoulder. In addition, there are physician's assistants, nurses and physical therapists who are specially trained in the care of patients with joint replacements. The team provides comprehensive management of arthritis in these joints, including total joint replacement, and offers the latest advancements in joint replacement surgery, including minimally invasive surgical techniques; computer assisted surgery and advanced implant options.

In total hip replacement surgery, the damaged ball and socket are removed and replaced with a new set that is made of metal and a durable plastic material. These artificial parts are called implants, or prostheses. There are three different types of prostheses: cemented, uncemented and custom. Based on your age, activity level, bone shape, size and strength, your orthopedic surgeon will decide which prostheses is best for you. This will be discussed with you at your pre-operative visit.

Preparing for Surgery

Before an operation is scheduled, you'll complete a physical exam and tests to rule out any health conditions that might interfere with the procedure.

An appointment at the Prepare Clinic will be scheduled two to three weeks before your date of surgery to review the preparation process.

Learn more by reading Preparing for Hip Replacement.

Day of Surgery

Please arrive at the hospital two hours before the start of your surgery to allow time for the admissions process and to meet with an anesthesiologist.

After you're admitted to the hospital, you'll go to the pre-operative area where you will be evaluated by an anesthesiologist. General anesthesia, the most common type of anesthesia, is administered intravenously to keep you in a "sleep" or unconcscious state during the entire surgery.

Your anesthesiologist also may discuss the option of an epidural or spinal injection to block pain. You will discuss this with your anesthesiologist prior to your surgery.

The surgery usually takes two to four hours, although this depends on the severity of the arthritis or condition of your hip. In the operating room, a urinary catheter will be inserted and left in place for one or two days. Compression stockings will be put on both of your legs.

For an overview of the procedure, see Total Hip Replacement.

Recovering from Surgery

The day after surgery, a physical therapist will teach you specific exercises to regain full hip movement. During your hospital stay, you will work with a physical therapist one to two times per day.

An occupational therapist and nurse discharge planner also will help you prepare for your discharge from the hospital. After you return home, you will work with a physical therapist three to four times a week.

The length of stay in the hospital will vary, depending on the type of surgery your have.

  • If you have minimally invasive, two-incision hip surgery, your hospital stay will be at least one day.
  • If you have a primary total hip replacement, your hospital stay may be three days.
  • If you have revision hip replacement to replace a worn out hip implant, your hospital stay may be four to five days.

Learn more by reading Recovering from Hip Replacement.

More Information

Computer Assisted Surgery

Our experts are trained in computer-assisted orthopedic surgery, which uses special cameras and intra-operative imaging tools that project images of the area being operated onto a television screen. On-screen prompts help guide surgeons to the ideal alignment of the implant and provide real-time vision of the surgical site.

High-precision alignment may extend the long-term survival of the implanted artificial hip or knee, reducing the need for future corrective surgeries. UCSF Medical Center surgeons are studying these new technologies to determine their impact on total hip replacement.

Advances in Joint Replacement


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

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

Condition Information

Our Experts

Erik Hansen
Dr. Erik Hansen,
orthopedic surgeon
Hubert Kim
Dr. Hubert Kim,
orthopedic surgeon
C. Benjamin Ma
Dr. C. Benjamin Ma,
orthopedic surgeon
Thomas Vail
Dr. Thomas Vail,
orthopedic surgeon