Queen Mother's hip replacement was 'a success' Queen Mother recovering after hip operation

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The Independent Online
The Queen Mother underwent a hip replacement operation yesterday but is making "a good recovery", Buckingham Palace said last night.

The one-and-a-half-hour operation on her right hip, at King Edward VII's Hospital for Officers in London, was "completed successfully". The operation on the Queen Mother, 95, was planned, on the advice of her doctors, and was not emergency surgery. She is expected to remain in hospital for about two weeks.

The Arthritis and Rheumatism Council said the Queen Mother was one of the oldest people in the world to undergo hip replacement but the prospects for a new pain-free life after her operation were "extremely good". A spokesman said: "The man-made replacement, of plastic and metal, removes all pain and usually results in improved mobility. There is a 95 per cent success rate for such operations."

The Queen Mother's pain and discomfort has been noticeable recently and she has relied on a walking stick or wheelchair for some time. Most recently she has been driven around on public engagements in a golf buggy.

At her last public appearance - the Field of Remembrance Service at Westminster Abbey a week ago - the Queen Mother walked with difficulty using two sticks, and she was not present at the Cenotaph on Sunday for the Remembrance Day Service.

Although hip replacement is a standard procedure carried out routinely on 50,000 patients each year, the effect of surgery on a 95-year-old is bound to cause concern.

In almost every case the patient is elderly and usually suffering from painful arthritis. Most patients stay two or three weeks in hospital, but it can take three months before they can walk unassisted and six months to a year before they make a full recovery.

The Queen Mother's operation is likely to fuel the debate over claims of rationing within the health service. While privately funded operations, like hers, are successfully carried out on the very old, they are seldom performed on NHS patients over the age of 75.