According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, total hip replacement is a common orthopedic procedure. As the population ages, it is expected to become even more common. Hip replacement surgery involves removing the head of the thighbone (femur) and replacing the ball-and-socket mechanism of the hip with artificial implants. This relieves pain and improves mobility.
Minimally invasive hip replacement allows the surgeon to perform the hip replacement through one or two small incisions, which tends to reduce pain. At Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, we offer the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques designed for improved outcomes, fewer complications and faster recovery, including the posterior lateral technique for hip replacement surgery, which requires only one 2- to 3-inch incision.
The one-incision approach can be completed between 45 and 75 minutes in almost all cases. Surgeons can achieve the same results using the small, one-incision approach as seen with the two-incision approach. The two-incision procedure involves making two smaller incisions, usually between 1.5 to 2 inches. These are made over the buttock and in the groin. Surgeons use fiber-optic lights to guide small surgical instruments that put the ball and socket joint prosthetics precisely in place.
The small incision procedures offer many advantages to traditional hip replacement surgeries. Patients experience less pain after surgery because the incisions eliminate a large amount of cutting. Patients can recover more quickly and leave the hospital within a few days while spending less time undergoing rehabilitation therapy. In fact, many patients can go back to work and resume some moderate physical activities within a few weeks. The risk of dislocation also decreases considerably when these minimally invasive approaches are utilized.
In the last five years, newer hip replacement implants have helped surgeons minimize a patient’s time in surgery. With the development of new cement-less implants, surgeons have been able to limit surgical time while also causing less soft-tissue trauma with the small one- or two-incision hip replacement techniques.
Considering that more young patients are in need of hip replacements, durability has become a significant issue. The new ceramic-bearing surfaces, metal-bearing surfaces and extended-wear polyethylene have improved the durability of hip replacements. Previously, replacement hips only lasted 10 to 12 years, but now they can last as long as 25 to 30 years. Surgeons at Alvarado, in many cases, are eliminating the need for more surgeries among younger patients by using the small incision hip replacement technique.