Skip to main content

What you need to know about anesthesia for hip replacement surgery

  • Anesthesia is a medicine that blocks the feelings of pain and sensation during surgery. You will receive other pain medicine to give you pain relief during and after surgery.

    During your recovery, you will receive pain medicine to help make you more comfortable.

    You will meet an anesthesiologist (doctor) and a registered nurse anesthetist, who will review your medical history and talk with you about your anesthesia options. Your choice depends on your surgery, your medical and surgical history, and your physical condition.

    The two types of anesthesia used for hip replacement surgery are general and regional anesthesia.

    Type   Definition  Benefits  Side effects
    General anesthesia General anesthesia puts you to sleep during surgery. It acts mainly on your brain and nervous system and affects your entire body. You receive it by injection (shot) or by inhaling it. A breathing tube helps you breathe while you are under the anesthesia. General anesthesia may be more appropriate for longer or more involved surgery. It may also be used if the position you'll be in during surgery is uncomfortable. Minor side effects such as sore throat, headache, hoarseness, nausea (upset stomach) and drowsiness are the most common. These side effects usually go away in one day.
    Regional anesthesia (including spinal anesthesia) Regional anesthesia blocks sensation to a limited area of your body. It is usually given with light sedation, which allows you light sleep while your surgery area is numbed. You receive it by injection (shot). Spinal anesthesia numbs the lower half of your body for about three to four hours. You receive an injection between the vertebrae. Less medicine is needed so you wake up more quickly with less chance of nausea (upset stomach). Regional anesthesia can be less stressful to your heart and lungs than general anesthesia can be. Minor side effects such as small headaches or trouble urinating are the most common. These side effects usually go away a few days after surgery.

    What to expect after surgery

    • After surgery you are taken to the recovery room or PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit). Most patients stay one to two hours. You may stay longer, depending on your surgery and how fast you recover from your anesthetic. The anesthesiologist and the recovery room nurse will care for you as you wake up from the surgery.
    • Depending on the anesthesia used, you may wake up with an oxygen mask on. You may also have blurred vision, a dry mouth and chills. Your nurse will monitor all your vital signs and help you if you experience any side effects from the anesthesia.
    • You may have some discomfort and pain when you awaken. Everyone has a different pain threshold and reacts to pain differently. Your nurse will work with you to make you as comfortable as possible.
    • You will be taken to the patient care area when your medical status is stable.
  • Videos

    Pain management after surgery

    These four videos review pain expectations, rating your pain, pain treatment options and home pain management.

    Video iconWatch all four modules.

    Peripheral nerve block: Pain control after surgery

    This 24-minute video explains what a peripheral nerve block is and how you can use it to control pain in the hospital and after you return home.

    Video iconWatch the full video or in two- to three-minute segments.