Find relief with an outpatient total hip replacement.
Like other joints in the body, hip joints are cushioned by cartilage to help them work smoothly. This protective material sometimes wears down because of progressive conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoporosis (OP) can also take a toll on hip joints, as can accelerated wear from repetitive motions, sudden injuries or improper healing from previous injuries.
These are just some of the reasons why some patients may be advised to consider outpatient minimally invasive total hip replacement.
What Is Outpatient Minimally Invasive Total Hip Replacement?
As the name implies, this approach to total hip replacement is designed to be done as an outpatient procedure. This means the entire process, from initial preparations to observation following the operation itself, usually takes place within a 24-hour period. The procedure itself is normally completed in a few hours. Characteristics of minimally invasive surgery of this nature include:
- Smaller incisions than what’s needed for traditional hip replacement
- Less tissue disturbance
- Reduced instances of post-surgery discomfort
- Faster healing and recovery times
How Is Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement Done?
The procedure can be performed with a single 3-6 inch incision or two small incisions that are about 1-2 inches in length. With the single incision version, the surgical cut is usually made directly over the affected joint. Muscles and tendons will need to be detached from the hip, but in a way that’s not as disruptive as what’s required with traditional open surgery.
The two incision method involves a cut made into the groin area for the “socket” part of the joint and one in the buttocks for the “ball” part of the new hip joint. Some bone and cartilage around or within the joint may also be removed. In an effort to make the procedure less invasive, healthy parts of the hip joint are sometimes resurfaced. In some cases, a spinal injection may be used to numb the area from the waist on down as an alternative to general anesthesia.
When Is This Approach to Hip Replacement Likely to Be Recommended?
There are many appealing benefits associated with outpatient minimally invasive total hip replacement. Even so, it’s not appropriate for all patients with hip joints that need to be replaced. The process of determining if this approach to hip replacement is appropriate normally involves a thorough physical exam that may include image tests to confirm the extent of the damage to one or both hip joints. Generally, this type of outpatient procedure is likely to be recommended for patients meeting the following criteria:
- Being otherwise healthy except for hip-related problems
- Expressing a willingness to actively participate in the rehab process
- Having little or no issues with underlying conditions that could complicate surgery (e.g., high blood pressure or uncontrolled diabetes)
- Being within a normal weight range, and usually a younger age range
- Not having had prior hip surgeries
If you are a good candidate for outpatient minimally invasive total hip replacement, be aware that you’ll still have to take reasonable precautions as you get back to your normal level of activity. However, many patients appreciate the ability to do most of their recovering at home. Also, because less invasive techniques are used to perform the procedure, it’s often possible to begin physical therapy or rehab sooner to improve flexibility, mobility, and range of motion.