There are a variety of different surgical approaches through which a hip replacement can be performed. The direct anterior approach is a minimally invasive surgical technique that does not detach any muscles from your hip or pelvis. This is a muscle sparing approach that goes through the front part of your thigh and hip joint to place the artificial joint.
Not all patients are candidates for direct anterior hip replacement, with the major restrictions being body weight (body mass index greater than 35) and complex hip disorders (e.g. hip dysplasia, previous surgeries, etc.). Dr. Dolan will discuss the different surgical options with you.
This approach involves a 4-6 inch incision on the front of the hip that allows the joint to be replaced by moving muscles aside along their natural tissue planes, without detaching any tendons. During hip replacement, Dr. Dolan will remove the damaged sections of your hip joint and replace them with parts usually constructed of metal, ceramic, and very hard plastic. This artificial joint (prosthesis) helps reduce pain and improve function.
After the procedure:
Hip replacement, no matter how minimally invasive, is major surgery and requires time to recover. With the anterior approach, there are typically fewer post-operative restrictions and the possibility of a faster healing time. Depending on your overall health and activity level, you will either have a brief hospital stay or be able to go home on the day of surgery. Most patients require the use of a walking aid (walker or crutches) for about 2-3 weeks. By 6 weeks out from surgery, most patients are walking 1-1.5 miles a day with minimal pain and no limp. Most people resume their normal activities by this time — even if in a limited fashion. Further recovery with improving strength will often occur for 6 to 12 months.
Expect your new hip joint to reduce the pain you felt before your surgery and increase the range of motion in your joint. But don’t expect to do everything you couldn’t do before surgery. High-impact activities — such as running or playing basketball — may be too stressful on your artificial joint. But in time, you may be able to swim, play golf, hike or ride a bike comfortably.