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With an increase in the number of older adults, more patients will need hip replacement surgery. The number one reason for hip replacement surgery is due to the pain of osteoarthritis.
Over time, the cartilage covering the hip joint wears out. Also, patients who have osteonecrosis – loss of blood supply to the head of the thighbone, rheumatoid arthritis, injury, a break or other developmental issues, may have to have hip replacement.
Traditional hip replacement surgery is a major procedure that involves a large incision, splitting of the muscles from the hip and a lengthy hospitalization and recovery.
Surgeons access the hip through a posterior approach, moving and cutting through muscle of the hip and buttock. They remove the ball at the top of the thighbone (femur), remove any loose cartilage and implant an artificial ball and socket into the joint. Patients have a long recovery and are limited in their activities for several months.
Anterior hip replacement surgery uses the same artificial implants, but is done through a single three- to six-inch incision on the front that a preserves the muscle. This minimally invasive procedure is best suited for younger, thinner and healthier patients.
To access the hip, the surgeon makes one cut on the outside of the hip. The surgeon works through the natural intervals in the muscles, leaving the important gluteal muscles that connect the pelvis and femur undisturbed. With the muscles remaining intact, they will remain stronger to hold the hip joint in place. Once the muscles are moved aside, the surgeon can remove the ball of the femur and build the new ball and socket joint.
After surgery, patients can bend their hip freely and return to walking and activities earlier. Patients who have traditional surgery have more restrictions that limit their hip flexion for a couple of months, which can disrupt daily activities such as using the bathroom, getting in and out of a car or sitting in a chair.
While not everyone is a candidate for minimally invasive anterior hip replacement surgery, it is a viable option for many patients. Patients are released from the hospital normally within two to three days and fully recover in six weeks. They experience less pain, have fewer restrictions and have minimal scarring. Patients undergoing either type of hip replacement surgery will normally be able to return to walking and lighter sports such as golf or tennis; however, patients are discouraged from engaging in strenuous sports.
Orthopaedic surgeons at Wake Orthopaedics perform the anterior approach to total hip replacement surgery at WakeMed. Please call Wake Orthopaedics at 919-232-5020 for information about total hip replacement procedures, including the anterior approach.
For additional information about orthopaedic specialists, call WakeMed Doctor Choice at 919-350-8900 or search online.
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