Foot Drop Post Hip Replacement Surgery

Case Overview
Patient had right hip replacement surgery. Post- surgery pt had pain and weakness in right lower extremity and was diagnosed with foot drop. She was told that it would take a year or so for the nerve to repair itself and was fitted with a brace. One and a half years later patient can’t walk without the brace and has severe pain and muscle atrophy. She is being offered pain management including a spinal cord stimulator.

Issue
Is this a known complication of hip replacement surgery that makes proof of negligence difficult?

MEDQUEST EXPERT RESPONSES:
Generally foot drop is an accepted complication unless you can show the following;
– the nerve was cut ( emg and MRI would show)
– a bleed developed in the buttock post op that wasn’t recognized and caused compression from a hematoma
– a MINIMALLY INVASIVE incision was not used (especially on a large overweight patient)
– the hip and leg were excessively lengthened compared to preop films ( can lengthen up to 1cm to be within standard of care)
Retractor placement and traction issues are NOT std of care issues
Dr JI – Orthopedist

Foot drop is an accepted complication absent showing of negligent technique.
Dr RS – Orthopedist