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April 18, 2016 | Orthopedics • Sports Fitness and Physical Therapy
The first step in making a decision about your hip replacement is to discuss with your doctor which surgical approach is best for you. For most patients, the anterior approach is superior to a traditional hip replacement. Let’s talk about why.
Traditional hip replacement detaches muscle from bone, which is more painful and involves a longer recovery. The anterior approach, however, is a muscle-sparing surgery. This means that we work between the muscle layers without stripping muscle away from the bone, allowing for a quicker recovery without as much pain. Also, the incision is in the front of the hip instead of on the buttock, which makes sitting much more comfortable.
One of the main concerns following a traditional hip replacement is dislocation—when the ball pops out of the socket. Because of this, patients are given a series of restrictions on the position of their hip after surgery. With an anterior approach, this is not necessary as the muscles are able to stay intact during surgery. Because muscles are not detached from the bone, the joint is inherently more stable and less prone to dislocation—so much so, that we don’t give patients any positioning restrictions after surgery.
With a traditional hip replacement, patients are positioned on their side, so imaging the hip with an x-ray is unreliable in determining the position of the components. With the anterior approach, patients are positioned on their back, which allows us to use live x-ray during the procedure to make sure the components are placed in the optimal position.
Another concern with hip replacement is changing the length of the leg. Because of the erosion of bone and cartilage that happens with hip arthritis, most patients will actually see that their leg is slightly shorter on the affected side. It is crucial to restore the length of the leg as well as the offset—how far the thighbone is away from the hip socket—to achieve the best results.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.