Until recently, nearly all total hip replacements were performed through incisions on the side or a little toward the back of the hip. It is still a reliable and effective technique. But recent developments have made a new approach possible. Called anterior total hip replacement, the incision is made in the front of the hip. Aniefiok Uyoe, MD, board certified, fellowship trained adult reconstructive orthopedic surgeon at Baptist Health Floyd, explains why this is such a significant and exciting option for many patients.
According to Dr. Uyoe, “The anterior, or front, approach is muscle-sparing. The surgeon can take advantage of the natural muscle planes and avoid cutting through them. That makes recovery much faster and less painful. Patients can get back to activities like driving quickly.” Recovery typically takes just two to eight weeks instead of two to four months.
“Following traditional hip replacement surgery, patients are advised not to sit on low surfaces, cross their legs or bend over,” said Dr. Uyoe. “However, when the anterior approach is used, these precautions are not needed. Patients are able and encouraged to resume normal, low impact activities.”
As Dr. Uyoe explained, “The anterior surgery is performed through a much smaller incision than the traditional procedure. But what matters most is what you’re doing to the soft tissues underneath the incision. And this procedure is truly minimally invasive in that there is very little disturbance of muscles and tendons.”Dr. Uyoe added that many surgical instruments and implants have also been reengineered to accommodate the new anterior approach. “Older replacement joints were difficult to insert from the front,” he said, “But the new implants are much easier to put in. They also allow us to conserve more of the patient’s natural bone.”