Is it possible to take a surgery that’s already remarkably effective, even life changing, and improve on it? Absolutely. Case in point: hip replacement. It’s happening right here at Centegra Health System, where orthopedic surgeons are offering patients with worn-out hips an innovative alternative to traditional hip replacement surgery. It’s called anterior hip replacement surgery. “The main advantage of the anterior approach to hip replacement is that it gives patients the chance for a speedier, easier recovery,” says Albi Qeli, MD, who learned the technique during his residency and has performed it at Centegra Hospital–McHenry since 2009.
MUSCLES ARE SPARED
In any type of hip replacement surgery, doctors replace severely damaged hip joints with brand-new ones made of metal, plastic or ceramic materials, allowing people who were often in constant pain to move comfortably again. Typically, surgeons enter the joint from either the back or side of the hip, which requires them to cut through major muscle groups. In the anterior approach, however, surgeons enter from the front of the hip and only stretch the muscles to the side rather than cut them. “The key muscles the hip needs to function are untouched, which means patients don’t need to wait for them to heal after surgery,” Dr. Qeli explains. “That’s why recovery is usually faster.” How much faster? According to Dr. Qeli:
The average hospital stay for the anterior approach is two to three days, compared to three to four days for standard surgery.
Roughly half his patients who have undergone anterior replacements are either walking independently or only using canes at their visit two weeks after surgery. In contrast, roughly half of the patients with standard surgery are still dependent on walkers a month after surgery.
The new hip joint is also more stable. “This decreases the risk that the ball might pop out of, or dislocate from, its socket, one of the most common complications of replacement surgery,” says Dr. Qeli.
With a lower risk of dislocation, patients can move more freely. “After a standard replacement, there’s a list of don’ts,” says Dr. Qeli. “With the anterior approach, you don’t need these precautions.” There’s a smaller incision, as well. Also, a highly specialized operating table and the use of fluorosocopy allows surgeons to more precisely position the new hip, which helps artificial hips last longer. Fluoroscopy is a type of imaging that shows a continuous x-ray image on a monitor, much like an x-ray movie.
CHOOSE WITH CARE
The good news: most people are candidates for the anterior approach. “However, it’s a technically challenging surgery,” Dr. Qeli cautions. “It requires a highly skilled surgeon who is very familiar with the technique.” Dr. Qeli joins orthopedic surgeons John Daniels, MD, and Robert Hall, MD, in performing the procedure at Centegra. “You don’t have to travel far from home to benefi t from the latest surgery advances,” Dr. Qeli says.
To find a doctor who can tell you more about anterior hip replacement, call 877-CENTEGRA (236-8347).