As worldwide experience increases with anterior approach to total hip replacement, more and more patients are coming in asking about the potential benefits versus drawbacks. In a study we published in “The Journal of Arthroplasty” in October 2013, we highlighted the benefits including less postoperative pain, earlier discharge from the hospital, and earlier return to function. These benefits persisted for 3 months, and at 6 and 12 months the differences between anterior-approach and posterior-approach patients decreased, and at 1 year there was no obvious difference between the 2 groups. It is clear from this study and others, as well as the experiences of patients, that there is less postoperative pain, earlier discharge, earlier return to activity with anterior-approach total hip replacement. The majority of our patients now go home the day after surgery with an anterior-approach total hip. Those who are obese or have underlying medical problems may require a 2-day hospital stay. Clearly, several factors influence the outcome from hip replacement. These include the surgeon and surgical technique, the patient, and their underlying medical health. The good news is total hip replacement is a very successful procedure regardless of which approach is used. As we focus on increasing value and earlier return to activity, the benefits of anterior hip replacement may become more apparent and appreciated.
We have seen a significant increase in the number of patients seeking anterior hip replacement, and at our hospital we have now purchased a third hana table to accommodate the volume. We will continue to study these patients and investigate their potential benefits and long-term function of hip replacement.