As an alternative to posterior or traditional approach hip replacement, anterior or front approach has a tremendous appeal to patients. During posterior approach, the gluteus muscle is cut, causing a painful and long recovery. The biggest appeal to patients considering anterior approach is there is no cutting of the muscle. When performing hip replacement from an anterior approach, orthopedic surgeons are able to avoid disturbing the muscle with a less invasive technique.
Antidotal evidence from patients, nurses and physical therapists would agree that anterior approach hip replacement has a shorter recovery time and is less painful. Yet, the true advantage to anterior approach is the accuracy the surgeon has for recreating normal leg length and hip anatomy. Surgeons specializing in anterior approach use a HANA table. During surgery, patients lie in a supine position on the table, as opposed to sideways in traditional hip replacement. This positioning on the HANA table allows surgeons to drop the legs into position with easier access to the femur bone and joints. In turn, surgeons may perform the surgery in one hour to an hour and a half, with smaller incisions and less muscle trauma.
Another advantage to anterior approach hip replacement is the accuracy of leg length. During surgery, fluoroscopy or x-ray machines are used to help surgeons determine a more accurate leg length than with posterior approach. Leg length discrepancy is more common during posterior approach because the muscles that destabilize your hip are affected. During anterior approach, no muscles are affected so your hips are naturally more stable.
Post-surgery, patients are experiencing a shorter hospital stay and decreased risk of hip dislocation. Within three hours after surgery, patients will work with a physical therapist and begin walking right away. By walking, patients are able to get used to their new hip and aid in the prevention of blood clots. Generally, patients are able to leave the hospital the next day. An added benefit with anterior approach hip replacement is patients have the ability to cross their legs and go back to normal activities more quickly. Surgeons recommend activity as the most important part of recovery.
Anterior approach hip replacement is not a cure-all. It is simply a new approach to hip replacement that has added benefits to the patient. With a less aggressive surgery, patients are able to heal faster and with less pain. With any hip replacement, the ultimate goal is to allow the hip to move more functionally and help patients get back to leading a normal life. Orthopedic surgeons strive to achieve these goals with anterior approach hip replacement.