Dislocation of the total hip replacement is a devastating complication, physically and mentally. It was determined whether there are radiographic or operative findings predictive of repeat dislocation and whether there are causes of dislocation that require immediate reoperation. A previously published classification of dislocations was used which evaluates (1) positional (no radiographic abnormality); (2) component malposition (femur or acetabulum), which is inadequate version or position of the acetabular or femoral component; (3) soft tissue imbalance (change in the length or displacement of the hip), which is a change in the muscle functional length of the hip; and (4) component malposition and soft tissue imbalance. Categories of treatment of dislocations were established that could be correlated to the cause of the dislocation: (1) Category I is a successful closed reduction; (2) Category II is a successful reoperation; (3) Category III is a reoperation with subsequent repeat dislocations successfully treated with closed reduction; and (4) Category IV is comprised of hips that require multiple reoperations for treatment of dislocations. The results are that any dislocation of any origin may be treated successfully with closed reduction so that this should be the first choice of treatment. To avoid multiple treatments, immediate reoperation should be performed if the hip is unstable when the patient is examined under anesthesia after the closed reduction. Hips with soft tissue imbalance and weakness of the abductor musculature, with or without component malposition, are most at risk for multiple operations. These hips may be considered for mechanical stability (constraint in the acetabular replacement) at reoperation.

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