Each surgeon has their own approach regarding hip replacements. Although hip replacements are commonly performed with a posterior approach, an increasing number of surgeons are using an anterior approach. An anterior hip replacement has several benefits, which you may want to discuss with your surgeon.
When you have a posterior hip replacement, the incision to access your hip joint is made across your hip toward your buttocks. There are several muscles in this region that must be cut for your surgeon to have access to your hip joint. Although the muscles are repaired before closing the surgical incision, you will likely experience some weakness when using your leg until the muscles heal. During an anterior approach, the surgeon is able to access the hip joint without cutting any muscles. The muscles in the upper leg can be spread apart for access to the joint. Since the surgery is less invasive, the anterior incision is often smaller.
Better Post-Operative Response
Although patients who have a hip replacement now generally have better post-operative and long-term outcomes than in previous decades, there are subtle, but important differences between the anterior and posterior approaches. Since the surgery is less invasive in the anterior approach, you will probably leave the hospital within a day or two. Less cutting of the underlying muscles also decreases blood loss and fewer patients require a transfusion after surgery. You can expect less post-operative pain after an anterior hip replacement and many patients do fine after leaving the hospital without the need for narcotic pain medications.
Fewer Long-Term Complications
Although no surgery is without risks, some complications occur less frequently with an anterior hip replacement. For example, the risk of hip dislocation after an anterior replacement is usually less than with a posterior replacement. This is due to the nature of the surgery. Since supporting structures need to be cut and stitched back together, they will be weakened until they have completely healed. This can provide more opportunity for instability in the hip, leading to a dislocation.
Temporary muscle weakness after a posterior approach can make physical therapy more challenging and make it take longer for you to return to daily activities. There is also an increased risk of long-term muscle weakness when the muscles are severed. Although these complications are rare, they are important for your long-term satisfaction with your hip replacement.
If you need a hip replacement, you may want to consider your surgeon's surgical approach. Although both approaches to hip replacements are effective, slight differences in approach can make you more comfortable with the procedure. For more information, talk to a professional like Orthopaedic Associates of Muskegon.