Osteoarthritis of the hip affects millions of Americans every year, and often requires surgery to restore functioning and alleviate pain. One such surgery, total hip replacement, has seen advancements in recent years that have improved the surgical process to potentially provide better post-operative results. Minimally invasive surgical procedures, such as the anterior approach to hip replacement, use smaller incisions to avoid muscles and tendon damage, and may potentially avoid restrictions associated with traditional hip replacement surgery.
Anatomy of the Hip
The hip is a weight-bearing joint, responsible for supporting the body's load when standing and during movement. The main hip joint is comprised of the end of the femur, or thighbone, and a cavity located on the pelvis known as the acetabulum. The femoral head rests within the acetabulum, forming a ball-and-socket joint with a wide range of motion. The bones' surfaces are covered with cartilage that allows the hip to move freely without incurring damage due to friction.
Damage to the hips can occur due to natural degeneration or through trauma to the bones. As the body ages, the cartilage wears away and becomes less effective at protecting the hip's bones from damage. Bones will deteriorate, and may develop 'bone spurs' on the edges of the joint.
Osteoarthritis of the Hip
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes chronic pain, limited range of motion, and keeps patients from enjoying everyday activities, such as gardening or walking the dog. Because of the hip joint's load-bearing nature, it is one of the most commonly affected joints. As everyday wear-and-tear takes a toll on the hip, the bones become damaged. Cartilage becomes ineffective at protecting the bones of the hip from friction, leading to hip pain, discomfort, and joint stiffness.
Hip Replacement for Osteoarthritis
Hip replacement surgery has been performed in the United States for over 40 years, and since its introduction, has become one of the most commonly performed and safest surgical procedures. Hip replacement aims to alleviate a patient's joint pain by removing the damaged bone and cartilage and replacing it with a prosthetic implant, designed to fit and feel like a natural hip joint. These implants aim to restore joint function and return patients to the activities they enjoy.
Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement (Direct Anterior Approach)
While traditional hip replacement has been a successful solution to hip arthritis, a new procedure, known as the anterior approach to hip replacement, potentially provides the benefits of minimally invasive surgery, including: quicker post-operative recovery, less blood loss during surgery, and less noticeable scarring. Additionally, patients pursuing the anterior approach to hip replacement may be able to move their hips immediately after surgery.
Anterior Hip Replacement Differences
Anterior hip replacement utilizes smaller incisions — approximately 3–4 inches, as opposed to traditional hip replacement's incision sizes of 8–12 inches — leaving patients with significantly less noticeable scarring. Incisions are made on the front of the hip, allowing the hip surgeon to perform the procedure without detaching the muscles or tendons. These small incisions contribute to less blood loss during the surgery, giving patients less post-operative pain.
Benefits of Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement
The anterior approach to hip replacement provides a number of potential benefits beyond traditional hip replacement surgery, including:
- Shorter post-operative rehabilitation period
- Less noticeable scarring
- Less blood loss and less post-operative pain
- Reduced risk of dislocation
- More natural feel
Baton Rouge, LA Hip Surgeon: Direct Anterior Approach
Dr. Craig C. Greene is a fellowship-trained, board-certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in traumatology, sports medicine, joint replacement, and the direct anterior approach to hip replacement. Through his practice in Baton Rouge, LA, Dr. Greene provides his patients with safe and effective treatment methods that work to alleviate joint pain and return patients to previous levels of activity. For more information about joint replacement and the anterior approach to hip replacement surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Greene at his offices, conveniently located on Bluebonnet Boulevard.