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The anterior approach is a more recent development in hip replacement surgery that offers many benefits over the traditional hip replacement approach. Anterior hip replacements can produce results equal to traditional total hip replacements, but with a much easier recovery on the patient.
I always seek to learn new techniques in joint replacement to improve outcomes for my patients. Though it is a newer approach in the field of joint replacement, I have over 10 years of experience in performing anterior hip replacements.
To date, I have performed one of the highest number of anterior hip replacements by a single surgeon in the state of New York.
What is the Anterior Approach?
Traditionally, hip replacements are performed by making an incision at the back (posterior) of the hip. This is called the posterior approach. With the anterior approach, the incision is made at the front (anterior) of the hip, which gives anterior hip replacements several advantages over posterior hip replacements.
Posterior hip replacements require the surgeon to cut and reattach muscles to access the hip joint, which can contribute to greater pain in recovery. With an anterior hip replacement, I can work between the muscles, requiring no cutting of the muscle. This often leads to a faster and less painful recovery.
The anterior approach also allows me to use an x-ray in the operating room, which helps facilitate better implant placement. This reduces the risk of dislocation and leg length discrepancies, which are more common with the posterior approach.
Candidates for Anterior Hip Replacement
As with any total hip replacement, candidates for anterior hip replacement typically have severe pain from hip arthritis that interferes with their everyday lives and activities. For these patients, nonsurgical treatments have not provided sufficient pain relief. A hip replacement can help to reduce pain and restore hip function.
In addition to these qualifications, additional criteria is considered to determine whether or not a patient is a candidate for anterior hip replacement. Patients who have had previous surgery on the hip, patients that have unusual anatomy, and patients that are overweight may not be good candidates for the anterior. With that said, I estimate that 98% of patients are candidates for anterior hip replacement.
Anterior Hip Replacement Procedure
Anterior hip replacements can often be done on an outpatient basis because there are fewer precautions after surgery as compared to the posterior approach. About 70% of patients are able to return home the day of surgery, and 99% are home within 24 hours of surgery.
Like traditional total hip replacement, anterior hip replacement involves removing the damaged portions of the hip joint and replacing them with implants designed to improve hip mobility and function. The anterior approach is considered minimally invasive because the muscles do not need to be cut to access the hip joint and prepare the bones for implant placement. The procedure is typically completed in under an hour.
Recovering from Anterior Hip Replacement
Recovering from anterior hip replacement is typically much easier on patients as compared to the recovery process for the posterior approach. Because the muscles are not cut, patients have much less pain in the postoperative period.
About 40% of my patients do not take narcotic pain medications after surgery, and about 75% of patients use less than 5 narcotic pain pills.
I will recommend at-home exercises for patients to improve strength and range of motion in the hip. 95% of my patients do not need formal physical therapy after an anterior hip replacement, which provides a significant cost savings for the patient.
Because the recovery process is much quicker, patients are able to resume most normal activities within 6 weeks of surgery. Depending on the nature of the patient’s work, some patients are able to return to work as soon as one week after surgery. If the patient’s occupation is physically demanding, it may be 10-12 weeks before they are cleared to return to work.
Long-term results of anterior hip replacement are comparable to that of a traditional hip replacement but have significant advantages when it comes to patient recovery.
Anterior Hip Replacement in Upstate New York
Dr. Wickline has over 10 years of experience with anterior hip replacement and has seen excellent results in his patients since adopting this approach. Dr. Wickline is also one of the top surgeons in New York State with anterior hip replacement. If you think you may be a candidate for anterior hip replacement, please call his office at 315-738-5069 or request an appointment via our convenient online form.