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Surgical errors in hip replacement are on the rise

A growing number of people around the country and in New Jersey are having hip replacement surgery done. As that number grows, so do unanticipated surgical errors that leave patients with one leg either longer or shorter than the other. This difference can be as significant as one-and-a-half inches.

This can lead to the patient experiencing chronic back and/or hip pain. In some cases, simple tasks such as walking or even sitting comfortably are nearly impossible. One estimate puts the occurrence of unequal limbs at one-third of all hip replacement procedures. In many cases, a heel lift is the only measure needed to correct the problem. However, some patients require another surgical procedure to correct the imbalance.

Studies indicate that sparing a patient from this issue is entirely preventable. Often, the problem is that the femur has been pushed down, causing the leg to become longer. Catching and surgically correcting a large inequality is best done within the first six weeks post-operative, before the bone has a chance to fuse.

Patients facing hip replacement surgery have the right to question their surgeon regarding their experience. After all, this surgery is designed to relieve pain and enable a person to do such things as walk and sit more comfortably and have greater mobility than prior to the surgery. It is appropriate to ask the surgeon how he or she plans to accomplish these goals. Moreover, in those instances where an imbalance appears after a hip replacement operation, it may be important to question the surgeon about what steps can be taken to address the problem before it is too late.

Sometimes, however, even when precautions are taken, surgical errors occur. New Jersey patients that become a victim of this type of medical mistake have the right to initiate a medical malpractice claim against the surgeon and any other parties that may be culpable. The best first step may be a thorough case evaluation in order to review both the patient's medical record and the legal issues that may arise in pursuing financial reparations against those parties deemed negligent.

Source:, Correcting uneven limbs after hip replacement, No author, Jan. 25, 2014

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