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Dear Dr. Assini: What are the benefits of an anterior approach to hip replacement?
The anterior approach to the hip involves an incision on the front of the thigh rather than from the back or the side. Surgeons use a space between two thigh muscles to access the hip so that no muscles are cut. This generally allows patients to mobilize sooner and more easily with less post-operative pain. In my experience, this translates into shortened hospital stays.
Dislocation risk is also lower when a proper anterior approach is used, because the hip’s supporting muscles are not compromised, as with the more common posterior approach. I use X-ray to guide the placement of the implants live during surgery. This allows optimal implant positioning and also ensures that the leg lengths will be equal after the hip replacement.
Patients who are interested in this approach should seek out a surgeon who has experience and/or specific training in the anterior approach, as it is the most technically demanding way to perform total hip replacement. However, when done well, it offers most patients a rapid recovery with an optimal outcome.
Joseph Assini, MD
Orthopaedic Physicians of Colorado
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