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Hip Replacement: The Anterior Approach Advantage

Has pain from osteoarthritis, injury, fracture, or bone tumors made you consider hip replacement surgery? If so, you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive surgery called total hip arthroplasty with the anterior approach, also known as the anterior hip replacement.

In a traditional hip replacement, the surgeon makes a 6- to 8-inch incision over the side of the hip and replaces the diseased joint with a new, artificial one. With an anterior hip replacement, the surgeon replaces the hip by making a much smaller incision—about 3 to 5 inches— at the front of the hip.

What Advantages Does the Anterior Approach Offer?

Compared to traditional hip replacement surgery, minimally invasive anterior surgery reduces blood loss during surgery and lessens post-surgical pain. Muscle damage is also minimized because the surgeon avoids separating the muscles and their attachments to the leg bones.

The anterior hip replacement option also reduces the time patients must stay in the hospital and allows them to get back on their feet faster. After a traditional hip replacement, a patient must remain in the hospital for about three to five days. Full recovery takes three to six months, including physical therapy. After an anterior hip replacement, many patients can stand with assistance within a day or two. They may return home after about two days, and they require no outpatient physical therapy.

Are You a Candidate?

Not everyone can exercise the option of anterior hip replacement. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, candidates for this minimally invasive surgery are usually 50 years old or younger, of normal weight, and in good general health. In addition, a patient may require a traditional operation if he or she has deformed bones, an infection at the incision site, or health problems that would slow wound healing.

Anterior hip replacement surgery uses a standard operating table, but it does require special curved or angled instruments. Because this surgery is relatively new, surgeons and surgical teams will vary in how many procedures they’ve performed.

If you’re considering hip replacement surgery, talk with your orthopedic surgeon about his or her experience with minimally invasive anterior hip replacement. Ask about its risks and benefits for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Kenneth Mukamal
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