A total hip replacement surgery is a commonly performed surgical procedure used to treat arthritis of the hip. The types of arthritis that can be treated by a total hip replacement include arthritis from wear and tear (Osteoarthritis), traumatically induced arthritis, and inflammatory arthritis (Rheumatoid arthritis). Current techniques involve replacing the ball and then placing a cup into the socket of the hip. There are different joint surface materials available to choose from, with new choices being developed and updates to the existing materials occurring all the time.

A Brief History of Anterior Hip Replacement

In Europe, and more recently in the U.S., a different surgical approach for replacing hips has gained interest among both surgeons and patients. In the U.S., the principal advocate has been Dr. Joel Matta in California. He learned about the anterior technique to total hip replacement while in France.  In order to make the procedure easier to perform, and less difficult on the patient, he created a customized designed surgical table.

The Differences Between Traditional & Anterior Techniques

The differences between the “traditional” surgical techniques and the “anterior” approach boil down to the amount of unavoidable muscle, nerve, and tendon damage the patient experiences during the surgery. Traditional approaches to the hip invariably cut through muscle, nerves, and possibly tendons, before entering the hip joint to perform the replacement. The “anterior” approach passes between muscles and tendons from the front of the hip. By accessing the hip joint through an inter-nervous/inter-muscular plane, the surgeon can avoid injury to the same muscles and tendons that once would have been cut.

The Amazing Advantages of Anterior Arthroscopy

A couple of additional advantages are purely due to the procedure being performed with the patient lying flat, instead of on their side with other approaches. The primary benefit is that x-rays can be taken much easier and much earlier than the traditional technique, which requires the surgery be completed before imaging can be accomplished. A secondary benefit is that patients usually experience less discomfort due to lying on their side for an extended period of time.

Another advantage to the “anterior” technique is that by approaching the hip from the front leaves the ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the back completely intact. This dramatically decreases the risk of dislocation of the hip following the replacement surgery. This reduction of risk usually eliminates the need of “post-operative total hip precautions” mandated by traditional surgical approaches.

The other frequently noted advantage is a massive decrease in the amount of time needed for rehabilitation.  Many, if not most, anterior hip replacement patients are able to walk with a cane by three weeks, and sometimes even sooner. By three-months post-surgery both the anterior and traditional approaches are essentially identical in function. It is the earlier return of function, the nearly zero percent rate of dislocation, and the absence of post-operative restrictions that make the “anterior” surgical technique so attractive to patients and surgeons.

Two Minor Risks of Anterior Hip Replacement

In some respects the outcomes of the anterior approach are the same as, or slightly worse than, than the traditional surgery. The risks of infection, blood clot formation, bleeding, and other systemic problems have a similar level of risk. The risks of fracture of the hip are slightly higher when performed anteriorly.  Despite this, in many cases, anterior hip replacements tend to be less risky in general and offer quicker recovery than the traditional surgery.

Find Incredible Care

The Illinois Bone and Joint Institute is happy to be able to offer this cutting edge technique to its patients. As the premier orthopedic institute in the Midwest, IBJI is the best choice for all orthopedic surgeries, including hip replacement. IBJI’s physicians are some of the most highly trained and experienced orthopedic specialists available. Make an appointment today with a joint replacement specialist and start recovering the mobility you lost.

This information is not intended to provide advise or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s).