Primary ileus after total hip arthroplasty: Rare complication or sentinel event?

Alberto Vannelli, Domenico LaVeneziana, Mario Rampa, Luigi Battaglia, Ermanno Leo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The incidence of hip dislocation after primary total hip arthroplasty (THA) has been reported to range from 1 to 25% in THA revision. Here, we explore the hypothesis that there is a correlation between postoperative ileus (POI) and THA dislocation, with POI after THA possibly representing a sentinel event. We retrospectively identified a cohort of 529 consecutive patients who underwent hip arthroplasty from 2008 to 2010. Of them, 251 were male and 278 were female, and a mean average for age of 71.5 (range 65-76). In particular, 19 THA patients showed signs of gastrointestinal complications, and therapeutic consultation was performed with the onset of the first intestinal symptom. Of these 19 patients, 3 THA patients developed POI within 1 week after surgical treatment. A conservative treatment was practised and it seemed to improve the condition: canalization returned and all patients were discharged from the hospital. Unfortunately, two of these patients were readmitted after 2 weeks due to THA dislocation and they underwent THA revision and were discharged from the hospital 7 days later. Follow-up revealed no further problems at 6 months. Our clinical experience with these post-THA primary ileus patients raises the possibility that intra-abdominal symptoms represent a sentinel event n THA dislocation. THA dislocation using neuronal pathway of immunomodulation may modulate POI. Since the risk of THA dislocation is the greatest in the first 3 months after hip arthroplasty, the surgeon should be familiar with the relationship between THA and various pelvic and visceral complications to ensure that POI remains only a rare complication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalUpdates in Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Arthroplasty dislocation
  • Intestinal pseudo-obstruction
  • Post-operative ileus
  • Total hip arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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