anterior approach to hip replacement

The goal of hip replacement surgery is to improve function and range of motion and relieve pain in a damaged hip. The most common causes of damaged hip joints that might lead to a hip replacement are:

  • osteoarthritis (age-related wear and tear)
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • fracture
  • infection (osteomyelitis)
  • a tumor
  • loss of blood supply (avascular necrosis)
  • abnormal growth (dysplasia)

The anterior hip replacement approach is most often used when arthritis is the reason for a hip replacement. But it also may be used to replace hips with any type of damage. It can even be used to repair a hip that has been previously operated on or replaced. However, doctors may decide to use a different surgical approach in unusual cases where the position of the hip bones makes it too difficult, or other health conditions increase the risk of complications.

Anterior hip replacement is a surgical procedure that involves the replacement of damaged bones in the hip joint using an artificial hip. The procedure is generally performed in one of two ways with the difference being how the hip is accessed.

In a traditional posterior approach, the incision is made on the side, or in the back of the hip and through the gluteus maximus muscle. Additional small muscles need to be released to expose the hip joint, and are then later reattached.

The anterior approach has become more popular lately because it is less invasive and generally requires less recovery time than the posterior and lateral approach of traditional hip replacements. In this procedure, an incision is made in the front of the hip. The muscles are then spread, not divided, to access the hip joint. In addition, to gain exposure to the hip joint, only one or two of the tendons that attach to the hip are usually released. It is believed that because less muscle is injured during surgery, patients may recover more quickly in the first six weeks after surgery.

Benefits of anterior hip replacement include:

  • Less post-operative pain;
  • Less damage to major muscles;
  • Shorter hospital stay;
  • Faster and easier recovery;
  • Fewer restrictions on activity after surgery;
  • Decreased risk of hip dislocation after surgery;
  • Lower risk of different leg lengths post surgery; and
  • Better range of movement.

Speak to your physician if you think you may be a candidate for anterior hip replacement. Your physician can help guide you to the proper treatment and surgical options.

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