What to know about muscle-sparing hip surgery

A traditional hip replacement compared to a minimally invasive muscle sparing hip replacement is a much more extensive process considering recovery time, mobility restrictions, hospital length of stay and possibilities of readmission into the hospital. 

Almost all patients qualify to have procedure traditional hip replacement done. Patients who overuse the hip joint or are older are more likely to need hip replacement surgery

Arthritis of the hip joint is the most common sign that you may need a hip replacement. Arthritis causes pain, stiffness and restricted movements. 

How to Prepare for Hip Surgery

You must limit food intake the night before surgery. Your care team will put you under anesthesia and perform lab work and imaging tests to evaluate your readiness for the procedure. 

Your care team will schedule an appointment with you before surgery and give you a list of do’s and don’ts for the night before surgery. This may consist of washing the hip area and refraining from shaving any part of the body for up to a week before the procedure to eliminate risk of wound infection from nicks in the skin. For diabetic patients or those on blood pressure medications, pre-surgery instructions may be more extensive. 

What Happens During Surgery

During surgery, you will lie on your back to allow the surgeon access to the hip from the front. 

This procedure is performed under general or regional anesthesia. While a traditional hip replacement surgery involves cutting muscle and tendons off the bone to access the joint, a muscle sparing hip anterior approach does not because it enters the hip joint between two muscle groups. 

Your surgeon will make a smaller incision and smaller deep tissue dissection, which allow for a quicker recovery and a more stable hip joint post-surgery. 

How Long Is the Surgery?

The surgery takes about one hour to complete. The anterior approach allows the surgeon full visualization of the femur and socket. The anterior approach with the patient supine also allows live imaging technology to access leg length and implant position more readily than other approaches. 

What Is the Recovery Like?

There are very few precautions post-surgery. You may need to stay in the hospital for one day after surgery, but some patients are discharged the same day. Your surgeon will let you know what to expect after surgery. 

For two weeks after surgery, you should limit physical activity as instructed by your therapist and physician to prevent complications in the early healing phase. After those couple of weeks, you can start increasing your physical activity. 

Depending on your mobility and overall health after surgery, your doctor may allow more physical activity. It will help to have support from family and friends to get around the house, cook and shower while you recover.

Anterior hip surgery at University Hospital doesn’t require strong narcotic pain medication for pain control, so there are fewer instances of side effects like nausea, delirium and constipation.

Will I Need Rehab after Surgery?

You will likely need some rehabilitation after hip surgery. Your care team may include a physical therapist who can advise you on at-home exercises as you recover. 

Your physician may require supervised rehabilitation for a week or two after surgery in your home. After that, most patients can perform a self-directed program after two weeks.

You may feel some discomfort in the hip, groin and thigh areas as your soft tissues recover, but you should see weekly improvement in the first six weeks. The majority of recovery occurs in the first two months after surgery. Most patients return to work in range of 3-10 weeks after surgery depending on what their job physically demands.

Risks & Complications

Although rare, some complications may include:

  • Infection at the incision site
  • Blood clots
  • Fracture
  • Nerve damage
  • Change in leg length
  • Dislocation
  • Swelling

Your care team will provide post-operation supervision to help prevent complications.

Hip Surgery at University Health

The orthopedic surgeons at University Hospital are some of the best in the region for performing minimally invasive hip surgery and teach other physicians the approach all across the country. Learn more about orthopedics at University Health on our website.

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