Hip replacement surgery is an invasive orthopedic procedure where the damaged hip bone along with some soft tissue and muscle is removed and replaced with an implant. The operation relieves pain and improves movement helping patients resume their normal daily activities. Total hip replacement surgery has two different approaches: the traditional surgical approach and the minimally invasive procedure. The traditional approach entails one long incision to allow observation and access to the hip joint. The minimally invasive procedure, however, uses 1 or 2 shorter incisions with the aim of reducing pain and the recovery period.
The type of procedure used depends on the patient’s general health and fitness and medical history. Other factors would include the experience of the orthopedic surgeon performing the operation. The basic information in this article is will help a patient understand the different options that should be discussed with their doctor.
Traditional Hip Replacement (aka posterior approach)
A 10- to 12-inch incision is made on the backside of the damaged hip. The muscles are disconnected from the bone. The femoral head is detached and replaced with a metal stem. A ceramic or metal ball is then inserted to replace the damaged femoral head. The cartilage surface of the socket is also removed and replaced with a metal socket. A metal, plastic or ceramic spacer is then placed in-between the new ball and socket for smooth movement.
Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement
This procedure approaches the hip from different angles than the traditional style. Special equipment is used to prepare the socket and femur and to insert the implants. The procedure can be done with either 1 or 2 small incisions.
Single-Incision Surgery (aka anterior approach)
During this surgery, a single incision measuring 3-6 inches is made to the front of the hip. No muscles are cut during the operation; instead, they are pushed aside to enable access to the hip. The damaged femoral bone and socket are removed and replaced with ceramic or metallic implants using a reamer.
This surgery requires two small incisions to be made: for socket replacement, a 2-3 inch incision over the groin and for femoral stem replacement a 1-2 inch incision over the buttock. This procedure may take longer than both the traditional and the single-incision surgery.
Minimally invasive hip replacement surgery has the following benefits compared to traditional hip replacement:
- Shorter recovery time.
- Less blood loss, pain, and chances of hip dislocation.
- Minimal trauma to soft tissue.
- Less scarring.