Total hip replacement surgery has been performed for decades to treat end-stage hip arthritis with excellent long term results. To perform surgery, the hip structures may be reached from behind (posterior), side(lateral), front (anterior) or through a combination of approaches. The posterior approach has been the dominant surgical method for many years. However, with recent advances in instrumentation the direct anterior approach is fast emerging as a more viable alternative.
The direct anterior approach involves your surgeon making a single four-inch incision in the front of the leg. The posterior approach usually requires a longer curved incision. Further, the direct anterior approach makes access to the joint possible by separation of muscles rather than cutting them. As a result, you may expect a faster recovery and shorter hospital stay. Implant position and leg length can also be measured with the direct anterior approach which may aid in precise fitting of the implant. The risk of hip dislocation is less when compared to the posterior approach and fewer, though different, precautions are required to avoid it.
Though the results of a direct anterior approach are spectacular in terms of pain relief and improved function, there may be a risk of numbness, tingling, and burning sensation along the thigh with this approach. Your doctor will take special precautions to avoid these complications.