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4 Benefits You Can Expect from an Anterior Approach Hip Replacement

Beth Siebenmark underwent an anterior approach hip replacement and recovered quickly. Now, she can walk her dog without experiencing the pain she once felt.

Since it was first pioneered in the 1960s, total hip replacement surgery has undergone many improvements. At one point, anterior approach hip replacements were commonplace, but their popularity was soon surpassed by the posterior approach hip replacement because it allowed for better visibility for the surgeon.

However with the recent invention of new medical instruments, surgeons are able to perform anterior approach hip replacements with smaller incisions and better visibility, increasing the procedure’s popularity. Here’s what you can expect if you go this route for your hip replacement surgery.

1. Less damage to muscles

Posterior approach hip replacements require the surgeon to sever and then re-attach muscle to access the hip joint. This means increased muscle damage and a greater incidence of nerve injury. The anterior approach results in less muscle trauma because the surgeon accesses the hip joint through a natural interval between muscles in the thigh.

2. Quicker recovery

Less trauma means patients tend to recover more quickly. Patients who choose the anterior approach can expect to spend roughly two days in the hospital as opposed to three or four days with the posterior approach.

Many patients also regain their mobility more quickly. A 2014 study found that, on average, patients who underwent anterior approach hip surgery were able to stop using walking aids six days sooner than those who underwent posterior approach hip replacement surgery.

3. Less pain

The minimal tissue damage associated with anterior approach hip replacement surgery often means less pain for patients. In turn, they may require less pain medication and can return to their normal routine sooner.

4. Better opportunities for surgeons

Anterior approach hip replacement surgery is performed with the patient lying on their back so the surgeon can compare leg length easily and avoid complications that can arise from leg length disparity, or LLD.

The anterior approach also allows for the surgeon to have a real-time view of the operating area using an imaging device called a C-arm. During a posterior approach operation, the surgeon only gets the opportunity to review internal imaging after surgery is complete, often when it’s too late to correct alignment.

Anterior approach hip replacement offers obvious benefits for patients, but this option isn’t for everyone. It requires more technical skill on the part of the surgeon and special equipment, so not all surgeons offer it. In addition, the anterior approach is not recommended for patients who:

  • Have weak bones
  • Are very muscular
  • Are obese
  • Have an abnormally shaped acetabulum or hip socket
  • Have existing hardware in their hip from previous operations
  • Will require bone grafting

Hip replacement surgery provides those suffering from pain an opportunity to restore ease of movement and rediscover the joy in activities such as walking, swimming, golf, hiking, and rowing. Orthopedic surgeons at Lakeland Health offer a number of different treatment options to help restore mobility and independence as well as Total Joint Camp orientation to help prepare patients for surgery and rehabilitation and Homecare services for continued care once they return home.

The orthopedic teams at Lakeland Health routinely perform knee, hip, and shoulder replacement surgeries. Your team includes physicians, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists specializing in total joint care. Every detail, from preoperative teaching to postoperative exercising, is considered and reviewed with you. To learn more about total hip replacement and the benefits of anterior approach surgery, visit www.lakelandhealth.org/hipreplacement.

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