Climbers and mountaineers will present to arthroplasty surgeons in need of hip replacement surgeries. There is a lack of guidance for both parties with a paucity in the literature. Climbing is often considered a high-risk activity to perform with a total hip replacement, due to the positions the hip is weighted in, and the potential austere environment in which an injury may occur.
The aim was to assess levels of climbing and mountaineering possible following hip arthroplasty, and any factors affecting these levels.
Ethical approval was obtained from the University of Central Lancashire. An anonymous online questionnaire was disseminated via email, social media and word-of-mouth to include all climbers, hill-walkers or mountaineers across the UK. This was used to collect climbing and mountaineering ability at various timepoints, along with scores such as the Oxford Hip Score and UCLA Score. The Kappa statistic was used to assess for correlations.
Of the responders, 28 had undergone right hip arthroplasty surgery, with 11 having left hips and 22 receiving bilateral hips. A total of 67 of the replaced hips were total hip replacements, with 16 having undergone hip resurfacing. There is a fair agreement in level of climbing ability 3 months pre- and 3 months post-operatively (kappa=0.287, p<0.001), and a substantial agreement between 1 year post-operatively and currently for both climbing (kappa=0.730, p<0.001) and mountaineering (kappa=0.684, p<0.001). Impressively, 17 participants are climbing at more than E1 trad or 6c sport at one or more time points post operatively, which is regarded as an advanced level within the climbing community. Out of those 17 participants, 8 were climbing at this level within 3 months post-operatively.
The level of climbing possible following hip arthroplasty surgery is above what is expected and perhaps desired by the operating surgeon. It is essential to take the individual patient into account when planning an operative intervention such as arthroplasty. The one year post-operative time point is highly predictive of longer term outcomes for both climbing and mountaineering.