The popularity of anterior hip replacement surgery is on the rise because of the many advantages it has over conventional hip replacement surgery even in cases of bilateral procedures. The smaller incision required means less damage to the surrounding tissues and therefore a shorter healing period.
Recovery from anterior hip replacement surgery is much quicker and involves a shorter hospital stay than in the case of conventional hip replacement surgery. This is because the hip is replaced without detaching the muscles from the pelvis or the femur unlike other forms of hip replacement surgery which require the muscles to be detached. In the anterior approach, the muscles most important to hip function, the gluteal muscles, are left untouched and this speeds up the recovery process.
The lateral and posterior soft tissues are left undisturbed which stabilizes the hip and minimizes the risk of dislocation. With conventional hip replacement techniques, patients are required to limit their hip motion for up to two months after surgery. These limitations tend to complicate the simplest of tasks such as sitting on a chair or going to the toilet. The anterior approach allows patients to bend their hips freely without any restrictions.
Another advantage of this approach is in cases where bilateral hip replacement is required. The procedures can be performed during a single operative session and the absence of post-operative restrictions makes bilateral replacement more feasible. This is a boon to patients who are reluctant to endure multiple hospital admissions and surgeries.
The technique of anterior hip replacement surgery allows the surgeon to approach the hip joint from the front as opposed to the lateral or posterior approach. The incision is about 4 inches long, about half the size in conventional surgeries, but this may vary according to the patient’s body size. The patient lies supine during surgery. X-rays ensure the correct positioning and size of the artificial hip components and the correct leg length.
The anterior approach allows for any type of hip prosthesis to be implanted. Hip prosthesis made from ultra-high density polyethylene, metal and ceramic as well as those requiring or not requiring cement can all be used.
The procedure, like all surgical procedures, is not without risk. Some of the risks of anterior hip replacement surgery include:
After surgery a physical therapist begins therapy which leads to the patient walking and resuming normal activities. Patients are usually discharged within approximately four days after managing to function independently with the help of crutches or a walker. Total recovery time varies from 2 to 8 weeks.