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Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement Means Reduced Pain, Speedier Recovery

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Russ Decker was in such pain that he walked with a limp and often woke up in the middle of the night. Hehad been taking prednisone and other medications to treat pain for more than a year, but no matter what he tried, the ache would always return. Ultimately, Russ faced the fact that he needed total hip replacement surgery.


Russ didn’t just pick any orthopedic surgeon out of the phone book. He performed extensive research to find a doctor experienced in the anterior approach. Dr. Jason E. Lang at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center was his choice. He is one of a few surgeons in North Carolina performing the anterior approach.


The anterior approach to hip replacement is a minimally invasive surgery that results in less tissue damage than what would occur during traditional surgery.This is of particular importance for patients who want to recover swiftly and return to work or activities sooner.The anterior approach also leads to shorter hospital stays and less risk for hip dislocation.


The procedure uses a specially designed HANA® (hip and knee arthroplasty) orthopaedics table, which allows the surgeon to manipulate the patient’s leg to access the hip from the front, instead of the back. During the operation, the orthopedic surgeon willreplace the hip joint between muscles, as opposed toseparating muscles from the pelvis and femur. Maintaining the muscle attachment is crucial to the patient experiencing less post-surgical pain and greater hip joint stability.


During use of the HANA table, the surgeon can reach the femoral head and acetabulum simply by rotating the leg inward. The damaged or diseased areas can then be trimmed and replaced with a femoral head implant and an acetabular prosthesis. The leg is then rotated outward to allow the femoral head implant to fits into the acetabular prosthesis.


Soon after surgery, patients are typically able to bear full weight on their legs. Because the incision size is smaller and the muscles supporting the joins remain intact, risk of dislocation is reduced.


In Russ’s case, his surgery was performed by Dr. Lang on Wednesday, he was discharged from the hospital on Saturday, and he walked into church on Sunday with the assistance of a cane. Before long, he threw away his cane and, ever the golf enthusiast,Russ Decker returned to the course about a month after his surgery.


“I didn’t have any real pain,” Russ said. “Every once in a while I took some over-the-counter pain medication, but that was it!”


Not all hip replacement patients are eligible for this surgery. For instance, patients with previous fractures or defects may not be suitable candidates.


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