If you’ve been told you are a candidate for hip replacement surgery, you may benefit from a new minimally invasive surgical technique called Direct Anterior hip replacement surgery. Put simply, this technique changes the direction from which a surgeon can access your hip joint.
With the Direct Anterior approach, your specially trained orthopedic surgeon is able to repair your painful hip through a natural space between the muscles of the anterior (front) portion of the hip, rather than making the incision on the posterior (back) side, which causes damage to the muscles that make up the primary support system for the joint. These are the muscles you spend weeks and months rehabilitating after surgery.
During this procedure, after a small incision is made — typically 3 to 5 inches in length — the hip joint is exposed between the anterior muscles, without the need to cut tissue or detach tendons. Once access is gained, the arthritic femoral head and neck and the acetabulum are prepared for the insertion of the hip replacement implant, just as in a traditional procedure.
The hip replacement is comprised of metal and plastic components that replace the ball-and-socket elements of the hip joint. They are secured within the femur (thighbone) and acetabulum (hip socket) either with bone cement or by “press-fit,” meaning the implants are shaped to achieve stability without bone cement. Through the use of X-rays, physicians can ensure the implants have the proper fit and alignment to ensure comfort and a natural range-of-motion after surgery.
Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics offers a wide range of hip replacement implants and your surgeon will choose the most appropriate one for you. One consideration used in selecting your implant may be its resistance to the scratching and abrasion that can cause an implant to wear out before its time. OXINIUM™ Oxidized Zirconium, a patented metal alloy made exclusively by Smith & Nephew, is a premium choice for active adults as it has superior resistance to the scratching and wear that effects traditional implant materials (such as cobalt chrome). Read more about OXINIUM implants here.
Advantages to utilizing the Direct Anterior approach:
- This minimally invasive technique allows the surgeon to access the joint through a smaller incision, which can mean a smaller scar.
- Preserving the soft tissue surrounding the joint allows for immediate stability following surgery, as well as a lower risk of dislocation, as the primary support muscles are left intact.
- Patients may have a shorter hospital stay, as there are typically fewer complications and faster healing time associated with this technique.
To find a surgeon in your area who has been specially trained in this new technique, click on “Physician Names” in the menu to the left of this article.
Hip replacement surgery is intended to relieve hip pain and improve hip function. There are potential risks with hip replacement surgery such as loosening, fracture, dislocation, wear and infection that may result in the need for additional surgery. Do not perform high impact activities such as running and jumping unless your surgeon tells you the bone has healed and these activities are acceptable. Early device failure (breakage or loosening may occur if you do not follow your surgeon’s limitations on activity level. Early failure can happen if you do not guard your hip joint from overloading due to activity level, failure to control body weight, or accidents such as falls. Talk to your doctor to determine what treatment may be best for you.