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Undergoing hip replacement surgery is a big decision that can give you a new lease on life, especially if you have debilitating arthritis symptoms. But, not all replacement options are equal.

At Utah Orthopedics, Thomas Calton, MD, is a leading orthopedic surgeon who specializes in advanced hip and knee surgeries. Dr. Calton uses minimally invasive techniques and outpatient hip replacement options whenever possible.

If you need hip replacement surgery, Dr. Calton offers these insights into how your hip works and the advantages of using an anterior approach during a hip replacement.

How your hip works

Your hip comes together in what’s known as a “ball and socket” joint. Part of your pelvic bone — or the acetabulum — forms the socket. “The ball,” or femoral head, at the top of your thigh bone sits in this socket.

A smooth layer of tissue, known as cartilage, covers these bones, functioning like a cushion so they can move against each other without creating friction. You also have a synovial membrane covering your joints, which keeps the tissues lubricated.

Another significant part of your hip joint is the hip capsule. This group of ligaments stabilizes your joint and holds the bones in place.

What a total hip replacement involves

More than 450,000 Americans have total hip replacements each year. During this procedure, Dr. Calton replaces your damaged joint with artificial components, including:

  • Replacing your femoral head with a new metal or ceramic “ball” joint
  • Removing damage from your acetabulum and inserting a new metal “socket” joint
  • Restoring “cartilage” with plastic, ceramic, or metal spacers to create smooth movement

To access these areas, Dr. Calton might recommend a variety of approaches, including traditional hip replacement surgery through your buttock or side. However, whenever possible, Dr. Calton uses a more minimally invasive technique through the front of your leg, known as the anterior approach.

How an anterior hip replacement works

A traditional hip replacement often requires a 4-6 inch long incision through muscles and ligaments. Healing from this type of surgery can take 10-12 weeks.

An anterior approach, which relies on smaller incisions and specialized tools, causes less tissue damage. During an anterior hip replacement, Dr. Calton uses a specialized operating table and instruments along with fluoroscopy, a type of digital imaging tool. This enables him to visualize and access your joint without making a large incision.

Using these advanced tools and techniques also allows Dr. Calton to reach your hip joint through the front of your leg. Coming at your joint from this angle means he can move soft tissues out of the way to perform your replacement, instead of cutting through muscles and ligaments.

The advantages of an anterior hip replacement

In the past, a total hip replacement meant an average hospital stay of 4-5 days, lengthy recovery times, and the risk of joint dislocation. But new and improved, minimally invasive techniques, such as the anterior approach, have revolutionized the process.

Benefits of an anterior hip replacement include:

  • Less trauma to surrounding tissues
  • Fewer risks of infection
  • Less post-surgical pain
  • Faster recovery times
  • Less chance of a hip dislocation

Plus, in some cases, Dr. Calton can even perform hip replacements as an outpatient procedure, so you can go home and start your recovery the same day as your surgery. And you can usually expect to be up and about within a few weeks after treatment.

When to consider an anterior hip replacement

While this technique offers numerous advantages, it’s not right for everyone. A few things that could affect your treatment options include:

  • Having a previous hip replacement surgery
  • Having a wide pelvis
  • Being severely obese
  • Being very muscular

With more than 30 years of experience in orthopedic surgery, Dr. Calton can recommend the best approach for your hip replacement to restore your mobility, reduce your pain, and get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

To learn more about your hip replacement options, book an appointment over the phone with Utah Orthopedics today.

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