Anterior hip replacement is a surgery that has been performed for twenty years. Currently, Dr. Watt is one of only a few orthopedic surgeon performing this technique in the Seattle area. This technique allows the orthopedic specialist to provide you with the same procedure as the standard hip replacement but with less disruption to the surrounding soft tissues and muscle tissues.
The surgery is performed through a smaller incision and there is less tissue dissection and this allows you to get back on your feet sooner and allows unrestricted motion of the hip immediately after surgery. This guide informs you of what to expect during the hip evaluation, what to be aware of before the surgery, and what you should know about after the procedure.
What to Expect during Hip Evaluation
An orthopedic specialist is a surgeon who specializes in problems that affect the bones and joints. When you go in for a hip evaluation, the doctor will ask you many different questions about your general health, your symptoms, and your expectations. This way he can determine if an anterior hip replacement is right for you.
The evaluation will include careful examination and review of your X-Rays and other preoperative tests. This is done to allow the surgeon to better understand your physical limitations and the exact progression of your hip problem. The orthopedic specialist will take a medical history and perform a detailed physical examination. This will include range of motion tests of your hips and knees and evaluation of your muscle strength. The doctor will take X-Rays of your hip to evaluate the joint and plan for a new hip if needed.
What to Expect Before your Surgery
Before you undergo an anterior hip replacement, you will have to see your family doctor for a thorough medical evaluation. It is essential that you bring all your medications and supplements to the visit so the doctor can make a note of them and tell you which ones you must stop taking before the surgery. If you are taking aspirin or anticoagulants, be sure you tell your doctor so he can advise you whether or not to continue these as directed. With this procedure it is usually not necessary to donate your own blood ahead of time.
What to Expect During Surgery
With the anterior approach, the surgeon will be replacing the top of the thighbone and socket through a small incision. Basically, the surgeon will get to the hip by means of a muscle-splitting approach. Rather than removing the muscle, he goes between the muscle tissues. Because the incision is minimally invasive, you will be back on your feet sooner. The anterior approach to hip replacement has a lower rate of dislocation, too.
What to Expect After your Surgery
Once the surgery is over, you will be monitored in the post-anesthesia recovery room. You will stay there until your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing has stabilized and your pain is under control. You will be asked to move both legs as soon as you wake up and the nurse will help you find a comfortable position to lay in. To protect you against development of blood clots, you may be asked to do ankle pumping exercises every hour and you will have sleeves on your legs to help prevent blood clots by pumping the blood for you. You will begin to take in regular food and fluids soon after your operation.
There will be a dressing on your surgical site that will be changed and checked frequently. The nurse will have you cough and deep breathe frequently and use an incentive spirometer after your surgery to expand your lungs. Remember, it is normal to have minimal discomfort after the procedure so ask your nurse for pain medication, as you need it.
What to Expect during Recovery
Because the anterior approach to hip replacement is a tissue sparing operation, you will be able to freely bend the hip and bear full weight immediately after surgery. This is done so you can enjoy a much faster recovery than with traditional hip replacement. Isometric exercises begin while you are still in the bed. These are muscle-tightening exercises done without moving the joint. You will be assisted in doing these a number of times each day during your waking hours.
A physical therapist will work with you to help you move your joints so they remain strong during your recovery. The therapist will document your progress and keep your surgeon well informed of your condition. It is important for you to follow both the therapist’s instructions and the orthopedic specialist’s advice to enjoy a healthy, full recovery.
In patients that are in good shape and good general health before the surgery a discharge from the hospital can be achieved in 2-3 days and frequently patients go home on the afternoon after surgery. Patients are only discharged when they are ready and both the surgeon and therapists feel it is safe.