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Direct anterior approach causes less pain, recovery time for hip replacement

Posted on: July 16th, 2019 by Dr. Frank Bohnenkamp

When your doctor suggests a total hip replacement, the treatment can seem overwhelming. The good news is that as technology has improved, minimally invasive surgical techniques have allowed patients to get back on their feet sooner.

One of those techniques is the direct anterior approach for total hip replacement. This procedure uses a special operating table to allow surgeons to access the hip from the front of the body. Doing so causes little to no muscle damage during the procedure and less downtown for patients with less restrictions because muscles don’t have to be cut to access the joint.

It’s estimated that about 20-30% of total hip replacements in the U.S. today are done using the direct anterior approach. Our sub-specialized hip care physician team treats hundreds of patients every year using this technique.

The most common diagnoses that require hip replacement include arthritis (related to aging and normal wear and tear) and trauma (an injury). Read on for a few more frequently asked questions and answers about this approach and if it might be right for you.

What is the direct anterior approach?

It’s an advanced technique that causes little to no muscle damage – the surgeon approaches the hip from the front of the body near the upper part of the leg. The location is in between muscles and doesn’t require detaching them from the pelvis or femur, which has been the standard in conventional total hip arthroplasty. The patient lies on his or her back on a special operating table designed for his procedure. The surgeon makes a small incision on the front of the hip, causing less trauma to the body through less muscle disturbance.

What are the benefits?

With traditional total hip replacement, patients must restrict their hip motion and flexing of the hip past 90 degrees for six to eight weeks. The direct anterior approach allows patients to bend the hip more freely and bear full weight as soon as they are comfortable doing so, getting them back to everyday activities sooner.

Additional benefits include a shorter or no hospital stay at all, a smaller incision, reduced pain, and reduced risk of dislocation, better implant position because of the use of imaging during surgery and less chance of leg length discrepancy.

Is the direct anterior approach right for me?

Patients who are in good general health are typically the best candidates for the direct anterior approach. Additional factors such as bone quality and a person’s anatomy (including if the hip joint is badly deformed) could also affect whether he or she is a good candidate.

Call us today at 815-398-9491 or request an appointment online for more information.