Q: What is a total hip replacement with anterior approach?
A: Also known as hip anthroplasty, a total hip replacement is a type of surgery that replaces a patient’s hip joint with an artificial one. A surgeon can approach this procedure from behind the hip, to the side of the hip or from in front of the hip. With an anterior approach the surgery is done from in front of the hip. The artificial hip can be metal or ceramic, or a combination of those.
Q: Why would someone need to get hip replacement surgery?
A: The purpose of most hip replacements is to treat pain and damage from arthritis, but a replacement procedure can also be used to repair other hip injures, remove bone tumors and replace bone that has broken down from reduced blood flow. Hip replacement surgery eases pain and helps movement in each of these situations.
Q: What are the benefits of an anterior approach?
A: Total hip replacement with an anterior approach is not an option for everyone, but it can provide an easier recovery for some patients. Using the anterior approach allows a surgeon to do the procedure through a smaller incision in the front of the hip, gaining access to the hip joint by cutting fewer muscles and tendons. Less cutting reduces the amount of overall muscle trauma that results from the surgery. An anterior approach results in less pain, less limping, a shorter hospital stay and reduced chance of hip dislocation.
Q: How does a patient prepare for this procedure?
A: Before the surgery, the health care team reviews a full history of the patient’s health problems, including any drug allergies. The patient will also be asked about their current medications or supplements, pregnancy and any recent health issues, such as fevers. In some cases a physician may want to run some tests before the procedure to get more information about the hip and surrounding tissues. These tests might include X-rays or MRI scans.
Q: What happens during a total hip replacement with anterior approach?
A: An orthopedic surgeon and specially trained nurses perform the surgery, which may take a few hours. The surgeon begins by making a cut in front of the patient’s hip joint and separating the muscles to gain access to the joint. The upper part of the femur is removed, along with the damaged cartilage and bone from the pelvis. The surgeon then replaces the cavity area of the pelvis as well as the femoral head, neck and part of the femur shaft with an artificial joint. Finally an X-ray is taken to make sure the joint is in the right place. Then the surgeon or an assistant closes up the incision.
Q: What is the recovery process like for this type of hip replacement?
A: During the initial stay at the hospital, the patient’s recovery is closely monitored. A patient can generally start walking in a few days, as soon as it is comfortable to do so, although at first a cane or crutches might be necessary for support. A patient may need to work with a physical therapist to regain muscle strength and mobility. External stitches or staples are typically removed about a week after surgery.
Any artificial hip can wear out or loosen over time, so a patient might eventually need another surgery. The life of an implant can be extended by regularly exercising and taking precautions to avoid falls.