Your Health Matters: A Different Approach to Hip Replacement Surgery

Local News
Dakota Dunes, SD (ABC9 News) – The thought of surgery can make any of us a little anxious, and for many people who need a hip replacement, the worry of a painful recovery might keep them from getting a procedure that will better their quality of life. But, an alternative approach to hip replacement surgery may ease some of those fears. 

Jim Johnson remembers the moment he decided it was finally time to get the hip replacement surgery he’d been putting off.

Jim Johnson from Sioux City says, “I could no longer get off my motorcycle.”

Of course, Jim wasn’t crazy about the idea of a long, painful recovery, which is why he did his homework and knew an anterior hip replacement approach would be the best bet for him.

Jim says, “Which is what I wanted; it’s less invasive [and] all the physical therapy post-surgery is done on your own.”

Jim’s surgeon, Dr. Daniel Nelson at CNOS, agreed he was a good candidate. Traditional, or posterior, hip replacement and anterior hip replacement are the same in terms of the orthopedic implants used. But with the traditional approach, the surgeon has to cut muscles off the bone to get to the hip socket. That causes trauma to the muscles and can also cause nerve damage.

Dr. Nelson explains the difference with the anterior approach.

Dr. Nelson says, “We separate those two muscles apart and dislocate the hip through that window between those muscles. Because we haven’t had to disrupt those muscles, we simply push them out of the way, there often is less tissue damage and the patients can recover a little bit quicker.

The benefit is not in the long term outcome, but in the initial recovery.

Dr. Nelson says, “By three months, I can’t tell the difference which way I did the patient’s surgery; they’re both very happy and they’re both walking unassisted, so it’s really in those first six weeks that you see the biggest difference.”

For Jim, the big difference was good communication with his doctor about what he wanted to get out of this potentially life-changing surgery.

Jim says, “The thing that was most important to me in this whole experience was the doctor got me as a whole patient, not just as a procedure, but he knew I was into motorcycles and they day I recover, he’s telling me I can get back on one.”

One other difference with the anterior approach: it’s not being done everywhere yet, because special equipment is needed.

Here is an illustration of the special surgical table Dr. Nelson used to do his surgeries at the Siouxland Surgery Center.
The specialized equipment helps minimize any complications.

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