Your anaestheticoptions

While you probably won’t have a choice of anaesthetist for your hip replacement surgery, you may be able to plan the type of anaesthesia and post-op pain relief that will suit you best.

The anaesthetist is responsible for pre-medication before the surgery, your anaesthesia and wellbeing during surgery, any blood transfusions you may need, and your post-operative pain relief.

Ask your surgeon if you can meet with the anaesthetist before the day of the procedure. This way you won’t be hurried or stressed, and can be involved in the planning.

For hip replacement, there are four main types of anaesthesia used. Your general health, pre-existing medical conditions, age and the anaesthetist’s preferences will affect the choices available to you.

If you’re overweight or obese, there are increased risks associated with anaesthesia.


You may be offered medication before the surgery. This may be to prevent nausea, reduce stomach acid or help you relax. If you think you’ll be feeling anxious before surgery, ask if you can have something to relax you.

Types of anaesthetic

  1. Spinal anaesthetic

    This is an injection of local anaesthetic into your lower back. It makes you go numb from the waist down so you feel no pain during the operation, but you stay conscious. If you’re worried about being conscious during the procedure you can also have sedation.

  2. Epidural anaesthetic

    This is similar to spinal anaesthetic but is delivered by a fine plastic tube into your lower back. The effects last longer than a spinal anaesthetic.

  3. Sedation

    Sedation is often used in combination with a spinal or epidural anaesthetic. Light sedation will make you feel relaxed while deeper sedation will most likely make you go to sleep so you’re unlikely to remember much or anything that happens during the surgery.

  4. General anaesthetic

    With a general anaesthetic you’ll be unconscious for the procedure and a tube will be inserted into your throat to help you breathe. You may wake up with a sore throat from the tube. General anaesthetics often cause post-operative nausea and vomiting. A general anaesthetic may be combined with a nerve block or infiltration of local anaesthetic into the wound to provide pain relief after the surgery. When you wake up you may have a urinary catheter.

Pain relief after surgery

After surgery you’ll be given pain relief prescribed by the anaesthetist. By enabling you to move and breathe without too much discomfort, good pain relief can help reduce the risk of complications.

Patient controlled analgesia (PCA) is often used in the first day or so. This comprises an
opiate drug delivered through a cannula into a vein. You can control the amount of pain relief you receive by pressing a button.

Injections of pain relieving medication can be delivered by cannula or into a muscle.

Pills, tablets or liquids can be given at regular times, or when pain starts to bother you.

Print this page to take when you meet with the surgeon and anaesthetist, so you can make sure all your questions are answered.

Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your procedure.


Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.