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Anterior Approach/Total Joint Reconstruction

Total joint reconstruction and total joint replacement are surgeries that can help patients to regain their range of motion, minimize or eliminate pain and take back their quality of life.

For the half a million or more people each year that pursue joint replacement or joint reconstruction for the hip, it’s typically after many months or years of discomfort or pain that has become worse over time. And, because of the significant nature of these procedures, most have followed an orthopedic surgeons’ recommendation to exhausting non-surgical options first.

But if it’s time to explore surgery, the procedure that is right for each patient depends on the nature of the joint damage, overall health, and other personal factors that vary by patient. Let’s take a look at several of the most common:

Hip Resurfacing

Hip resurfacing involves minimal removal of a patient’s femur bone, typically reshaping the ball of the femur to fit into a new prosthetic socket that sits inside the pelvis. Because this procedure saves more natural bone tissue and uses a smaller implant, recovery can be faster than other joint reconstruction or replacement procedures.

Patients who are hoping to return to high-impact exercises, such as running, often consider this procedure. Recovery times average around six weeks to return to normal activities.

Joint Reconstruction for the Hip: Hip Labral Reconstruction

The hip labrum is a tendon that attaches to the hip socket and can be torn or damaged. In many cases, an orthopedic surgeon can repair and reattach the labral tissue. But when there is not enough healthy tissue to make the repair, surgeons can perform hip labral reconstruction using a tissue graft to reconstruct the damaged part of the labrum.

There is usually some remaining healthy tissue, and when that is the case, the reconstruction can be partial. In either case, hip labral reconstruction can be done through an arthroscopic procedure that involves smaller incisions and less recovery time, or an open surgery that requires a larger incision and more manipulation of the joint.  Many patients who have arthroscopic surgery are able to walk on their own two to three weeks after surgery, while open surgery patients may need 6 weeks or more to walk unassisted. Full recovery is aided by physical therapy and exercise and often takes about 6 months.

Total Hip Replacement

Total hip replacement (known in the medical community as hip arthroplasty) typically has very good outcomes with regard to reducing pain and allowing patients to live an active life. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a total hip replacement is “one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine.”

In this procedure, damaged cartilage and bone are replaced with a prosthetic ball and socket. It involves the removal of a section of the femur, called the femoral head, and placing a new prosthetic socket into the pelvis.

Total hip replacements are done both as in-patient and outpatient procedures, depending on a number of individual factors. Either way, physical therapy is crucial to recovery and in most cases, orthopedic surgeons encourage patients to get moving soon after surgery. Many patients are on their feet and resuming most light activities in 3-6 weeks.

The anterior approach to hip replacement

Traditional total hip replacement is done by accessing the joint through a large incision in the side or back of the hip. The anterior approach is done from the front of the hip and often involves a smaller incision and less trauma to muscles, less pain after the procedure, and a faster recovery. It also tends to reduce the chance of hip dislocation. Without cutting the muscles near the hip joint, there is less tissue to heal and recoveries are often shorter – as little as two weeks.

If you’re struggling with hip pain and are ready to explore surgical options, it’s important to see a qualified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of the hip.  The award-winning team at Colorado Center for Orthopedic Excellence treats a wide variety of hip conditions. Schedule an appointment at one of our three convenient locations.