Hip arthritis and minimally invasive anterior hip replacement

Hip arthritis and minimally invasive anterior hip replacement

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the hip. Characterised by wearing of the cartilage at the ends of the bone, it develops in many Australians with age. The degradation of the cartilage causes pain on movement which can become debilitating.

Osteoarthritis gradually worsens over time and cannot be cured, although prompt treatment and management can delay its progress and manage symptoms.

Symptoms & treatment

Primary symptoms for arthritis of the hip include pain, swelling, and joint stiffness.

Pain may worsen when on movement or following periods of immobility, often radiating from the groin or thigh into the knee and/or buttock. This is often accompanied by ‘crunching’ sounds or sensations in the joint during movement, as well as a decreased range of motion.

Treatments for osteoarthritis of the hip

The initial stages of hip osteoarthritis are treated conservatively. Techniques such as activity management, and anti-inflammatory medications can help manage pain. Your doctor may recommend a walking aid – such as a cane or crutches – to improve your mobility.

Surgery may be considered if symptoms cannot be managed effectively. The typical recommendation is hip joint replacement, which involves removing the diseased bone and replacing it with a prosthetic. These prosthetics last longer than 15 years in over 90% of cases.

Dr Jonathan Cabot has undergone specific training to provide hip replacement with an anterior approach. This newer method allows a surgeon to replace the hip joint while minimising impact on surrounding tissue.

Anterior vs posterior hip replacement: what’s the difference?

Traditionally, hip replacements are performed via a posterior or lateral approach. This involves making an incision along the buttock area, cutting through different muscles (depending on the approach) to access the hip.

In an anterior hip replacement, no muscles or tendons are cut. The incisions are made in the front of the hip instead.

This position allows the muscles to be gently moved aside for access to the bone, largely eliminating the need to cut through muscle and tendons. As there is less trauma to the joint and soft tissues, less precautions are needed and recovery time is often faster.

Indications for anterior approach

Patients who are very muscular or obese may not be suitable for anterior hip replacement, as the additional tissue can make accessing the hip joint difficult. Patients with femur deformities and abnormal pelvis anatomy also may not be suitable.

The shape of the bone, extent of damage, and type of arthritis present can also impact suitability. In some cases, an alternate treatment such as hip resurfacing may be recommended instead. Suitability for any kind of hip replacement surgery is determined in consultation with Dr Jonathan Cabot.

Recovery from anterior hip replacement surgery

Anterior hip replacement surgery generally results in a shorter hospital stay and quicker return to normal activities. Recovery times vary for each individual.

Anterior hip replacement patients can typically discontinue use of a walking device 1-3 weeks sooner than posterior hip replacement patients.