Anterior Hip Replacement: Less Pain, Faster Recovery

Many patients benefit from replacing hip joints from the front of a person’s hip – rather than from the side or back. McLeod Seacoast Orthopedic Surgeon Eric Heimberger, M.D., explains why:

Here is a summary of Dr. Heimberger’s comments:

The traditional approach hip replacement usually involves approaching the hip, either through the side or through the back.

The side approach typically involves detaching muscles. The posterior approach, which is through the back, usually involves more dissection and muscle attachment, the part of the body where the patient sits.

Whereas the direct anterior approach is less invasive, less muscle detachment or splitting, and it puts the incision in a place where it’s not compromised by the way the patient sits.

So the biggest benefit is less trauma to the tissues for the patient — less muscle detachment, less splitting of the muscle fibers. Typically this results in less pain and a quicker recovery afterward. These patients typically are up walking the same day. Many times, this procedure can be done as an outpatient procedure or with only an overnight stay. There’s certainly a lot less pain compared to the posterior or lateral approach. Also, blood loss can be less. Of effect of hip joint replacement is the possibility that the legs end up of different lengths. Leg length discrepancy can be compensated or improved in the direct anterior approach, reducing the discrepancy. The dislocation rate has also shown to be less, which is also important for hip replacements. Yet, the greatest advantage is that the less invasive procedure allows for quicker recovery time.

Most patients would be candidates for direct anterior. But that’s going to be determined by the orthopedic surgeon you see. So, anybody having hip pain or having problems with their hip should consult an orthopedic surgeon, discuss the options with them and let them decide if they’re really a good candidate for an anterior approach.

Direct anterior hip replacement is really a newer procedure and certainly has been shown to have a much quicker recovery for patients, allowing patients to return back to their normal activities functional status quicker than the other approaches that we’ve done. So, it’s exciting to see our patients being able to get up and move more quickly and be able return to the activities that they want to be doing, such as golf.

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