Thousands of people suffering from severe arthritis and hip pain now have an additional hip replacement option at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center to regain their mobility and relieve pain and stiffness. The anterior approach, among the least invasive surgical options, offers potential advantages, including more rapid return to normal activities, reduced risk of dislocation and more accurate leg length control and implant positioning.

The anterior approach to hip replacement allows surgeons to reach the hip joint from the front of the hip as opposed to the lateral (side) or posterior (back) approach. This way the hip can be replaced without detachment of the muscle from the pelvis or femur. The orthopedic surgeon works through the natural interval between muscles. By keeping muscles intact, the anterior approach may result in less pain, faster recovery, quicker stability and fewer post-operative restrictions.

The hip replacement approach selected is the one best suited to the patient's anatomy. Pelvic structure, obesity, heavy musculature or prior surgery may dictate a posterior approach.

"Each approach has advantages and risks, but six months after surgery, the result is the same," explains R. Lance Montgomery, MD, Saddleback Medical Center orthopedic surgeon. "The patient feels great, and in most cases can return to the activities enjoyed before their pain started."

According to Dr. Montgomery, "preserving the muscles means less trauma and faster rehabilitation. With both approaches, we get patients up and walking a few hours post-surgery. With the anterior approach, however, patients are well on their way to a recovery after just three weeks. The lower risk of post-surgical dislocation also has a positive psychological impact."

To improve access to the hip joint during the anterior approach, Saddleback Medical Center acquired the technologically advanced Hana® surgical table allowing the leg to be safely positioned and held steady at any angle, providing a clear view of the hip joint through smaller incisions. Implants are positioned more easily, and accuracy confirmed through intra-operative x-rays. Necessary adjustments can be made before closing the wound. The result is more precise placement, less soft-tissue trauma, faster recovery and higher patient satisfaction. To learn more, visit our section on Joint Replacement.