The Latest Procedure: Anterior Approach Total Hip Replacement Surgery

by Jsantos, September 6, 2017

The Latest Procedure: Anterior Approach Total Hip Replacement Surgery

Traditional hip replacement surgery requires a single, long incision to access the entire hip joint. This, of course, has longer recovery times and holds the possibility of more complications. Because of this, hip surgeons and other orthopedic specialists have developed an anterior option for hip replacement surgery.

What is an Anterior Hip Replacement? 

Usually, a hip replacement surgery starts with an incision on the backside of the body, along the hip joint. In an anterior hip replacement, the incision starts at the top of the pelvic bone and goes down toward the top of the thigh.

There are a number of benefits to this surgery, although it has not entirely replaced the traditional method. Before you go in for your hip replacement surgery, it’s important to talk to your doctor to see if you’re a candidate for the anterior approach total hip replacement surgery or not.

How Many People Qualify for Anterior Approach Total Hip Replacement? 

Right now, only about 15% to 20% of hip replacement surgeries in the US use the anterior approach. Many doctors specialize in this approach, but many more use a combination of traditional hip replacement surgery and anterior approach. Each case is different, and the type of hip replacement depends on:

  • How damaged the existing hip is
  • The age of the patient
  • The level of complexity involved in the surgery

For some people, even despite very advanced age, the anterior approach total hip replacement may be a great option. Some people, however are not the best candidates, like individuals who are very obese, or have a lot of muscle. It’s also not ideal for people with poor immune function or who are slow to heal.

Other than that, more and more people are finding that they qualify for an anterior approach replacement surgery, which has a number of benefits (and risks) associated with it.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Anterior Approach Total Hip Replacement

Just like with any surgery, there are inherent risks and downsides. However, because of the minimally-invasive nature of an anterior hip replacement, it is easier for doctors to replace and mend the damaged hip.

The benefits of anterior hip replacement include:

  • Improved recovery time
  • Decreased damage to muscles around the hip
  • Less pain
  • Increased range of motion
  • Decreased risk of future hip dislocation

With traditional hip replacements, recovery time and pain can be daunting. With 6-8 weeks before a patient can cross their legs or engage in much activity, there are tons of other risks that coincide with older hip replacement processes.

However, an anterior approach total hip replacement also has a few risks, like:

  • Nerve damage
  • Difficulty healing along incision
  • Limited access to providers who perform the surgery
  • Decreased success in obese or larger patients

Choosing What’s Best for You

The key to any surgery is consulting with your medical team to choose the option with the highest probability of success. Talk to your doctor about the anterior hip replacement option to see if you’re a candidate, and then explore recovery and therapy options postoperative.

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