Artificial hips were first implanted in the 1950s by the Lancashire surgeon John Charnley. In a total hip replacement (THR) operation for severe arthritis of the joint, a long cut is made by the orthopaedic surgeon along the outside of the thigh and over the hip joint. Through this, the top end of the thigh bone (femur) is exposed, and just below the start of the hip joint, the bone is sawn through to remove the top one centimetre of the femur and the part of the bone that forms the head of the femur and the hip joint itself. The inside of the femur (where the marrow is situated) is then reamed out for a distance of about 10 cm, and the hip joint socket on the side of the pelvis is partly drilled away. Special glue is then poured into the top of the femur from where the marrow has been removed, and the long spindle of the new steel hip joint is inserted down into the bone. The glue hardens rapidly and fixes it in position. A plastic socket is glued onto the side of the pelvis in a similar way, and the new hip joint is put into position. The tissues are closed with sutures.
Within a day or two, physiotherapists will start the patient walking on the new, strong, pain-free hip, and most patients leave hospital within seven to ten days.