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The hip is a ball and socket joint. It allows the upper leg to bend and rotate at the pelvis. A hip fracture is a break which occurs in the upper part of the femur. The type of surgery used to treat this depends on which bones and soft tissue are affected and the level of the fracture. (An injury to the socket is not considered a hip fracture and management of fractures of this area is a completely different consideration.)

Most hip fractures occur from a fall or direct blow to the side of the hip. There are generally three different types:

In more complicated cases, the amount of breakage can involve more than one of these zones.

Some medical conditions including osteoporosis, cancer or stress injuries can weaken the bone and make the hip more susceptible to breaking. In some cases, patients can break their hip merely by twisting into an awkward position.

Some medical conditions including osteoporosis, cancer or stress injuries can weaken the bone and make the hip more susceptible to breaking. In some cases, patients can break their hip merely by twisting into an awkward position.

A hip fracture causes pain over the outer upper thigh or in the groin. There is significant discomfort especially during any attempt to flex or rotate the hip. There can also be an aching in the groin or thigh period prior to the break. If the bone is completely broken, the injured leg may appear shorter and the patient will often hold the injured leg and foot facing outward.


Diagnosis is generally made via X-ray of the hip and femur. Sometimes after a fall, an incomplete fracture can be missed on a regular X-ray. In that case, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be required. If you are unable to have an MRI due to a medical condition, a CT scan (Computed Tomography) will be performed instead. Although not as sensitive as an MRI it can still show up hidden hip fractures.

Once the diagnosis is made, your surgeon will discuss with you the best method of fixing your type of fracture. Evidence shows that it is better to perform the operation on a fractured hip quickly to achieve the best outcomes, however there will be a full workup of your health to ensure your safety and overall wellbeing.

There are many options for anaesthesia – including a general anaesthetic, or sedation with a spinal anaesthesia amongst other combinations. All patients receive antibiotics during and post-surgery.

Dr Rodda’s decision on the best method of surgery will depend on the area of the hip that is broken. Your surgeon will choose the optimal operation for you based on the type of fracture you have.


Since most fractures require surgery to be able to return to mobility, and there are significant other complications that can occur if the fracture is not treated due to being bed bound such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections and pressure sores amongst other issues, it is a consensus recommendation that most patients proceed unless they are significantly unwell or unable to do so.


As with all procedures there are factors you should be aware of:


Pain is a natural part of the healing process however you will be prescribed medication to help provide short-term pain relief. You will be encouraged to get out of bed on the day following surgery with the assistance of a physiotherapist. The amount of weight you can place on the injured area will be determined by your surgeon depending on your procedure.

Full recovery can take up to 3 months as you regain your strength and the ability to walk. It is important that you follow your surgeons instructions to ensure your recovery proceeds as planned. You may be placed on blood thinners to reduce the chance of developing blood clots or need to use elastic stockings. You will be required to attend follow up appointments so that Dr Rodda can check your wound, remove sutures if necessary, take X-rays and prescribe physical therapy.

If you are sitting for longer periods than usual you can suffer from chest infections, pressure sores or ulcers, develop a urinary tract infection or blood clots in your legs or lungs. There may also be further loss of muscle mass, increasing your risk of falls and injury. By following the recommendations of your physiotherapist and doctor, you will minimise the risk of these happening.

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