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Fast track to recovery
The advantages of anterior hip replacement.Joint replacement surgery comes with many benefits—swapping a diseased or damaged hip for a new one can get you back in motion with less pain. However, it also usually comes with a lengthy recovery period.
But times are changing. Surgeons at T.J. Samson Community Hospital are taking a new approach to hip replacement. And if your doctor says you need a new hip because of arthritis or another condition, it could help you get back on your feet faster.
It’s called anterior hip replacement, and it has several advantages. Among them:
- A shorter hospital stay.
- Less postoperative pain.
- A quicker recovery.
Spare the muscles
The anterior approach is like the traditional surgery in most ways: Diseased hip bones are removed and replaced with artificial parts. However, the surgery is done through the front of the hip, so key muscles don’t have to be cut to reach the joint.
“You’re going in between muscles,” says S. Matthew Rose, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at South Central Kentucky Orthopedics. “It’s like opening a curtain to see out the window versus cutting a curtain in half.”
The result: There’s no need for many of the postoperative restrictions that would otherwise be needed to protect those muscles while they heal. These precautions included avoiding certain activities, such as driving, sitting in low chairs and tying shoes. Now people can bend the new hip freely and allow it to bear their full weight without walking aids as soon as their comfort allows. And the smaller incision also means the pain after surgery is reduced.
“People are returning to their normal lifestyles much sooner,” says Dr. Rose, who performs the surgery at T.J. Samson with Barret Lessenberry, MD.
Dr. Lessenberry agrees. After using conventional hip replacement techniques for more than 25 years, he says the quicker recovery period seen with the anterior approach is pretty remarkable by comparison. “Our anterior supine patients have just recovered faster,” he says. “Some are up with a simple cane within days. We are excited to offer the technique to our patients.”
Everyone recovers differently depending on age, health and other factors. But many people return to their usual activities within four to six weeks.
While the approach is new, the artificial joints are the same. So a new hip can still last 15 to 20 years, Dr. Rose says. “But the recovery time and functionality after this is much better,” he says.
“We have seen some innovations in orthopedics that proved to be just fads,” Dr. Lessenberry says. “This one seems here to stay and really seems beneficial in the right patients.”
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