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Prognosis

Hip fractures are always serious. They are a major source of disability and can result in life-threatening complications. Approximately 4% of people die after a hip fracture because of complications from the fracture, its surgical treatment or from medical consequences from having to be immobilized. Immobility can cause blood clots to form in the leg veins, a problem that can lead to a life-threatening complication called pulmonary embolus. Pneumonia is also common in immobile patients. Immobility can cause bedsores in the buttock or ankle area, and bedsores can develop infections.

A fractured hip can cause sustained disability in many cases. However, in most cases, surgery is successful, and people can walk and resume normal activities with few restrictions.

Fractures of the femoral head can cause an additional complication by injuring the blood vessels that supply blood to the upper part of the femur. This type of injury can impair healing and lead to death of the bone, called osteonecrosis. Osteonecrosis of the femoral head occurs in about 10% of people who fracture a hip, but in up to 30% of those whose hip fracture is displaced.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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