Minimally invasive surgical techniques for total hip replacement are the subject of ongoing clinical studies. It may take many years and dozens more clinical studies before minimally invasive procedures are shown to have definitively better or worse outcomes than traditional procedures.

In the meantime, patients and doctors must use the knowledge available to make informed choices. The table below summarizes much of what we know about traditional total hip replacement surgery compared to minimally invasive hip replacement surgery. Because of the limited research available, all minimally invasive techniques are grouped together.

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Table: Minimally invasive versus traditional hip replacement


Traditional Minimally Invasive
Incision
  • 10 to 12 inch incision
  • 3 to 6 inch incision (typically just one, but sometimes two smaller incisions)
Advantages
  • The traditional technique is reliable and time-tested.
  • A clear view of the hip joint may help the surgeon to create an ideal fit and alignment. This potentially minimizes certain post-surgical complications.
  • Less damage to surrounding soft tissue
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster rehabilitation
  • Smaller scar
Disadvantages and Risks
  • More damage to surrounding muscle and other soft tissue
  • Longer hospital stay
  • Slower recovery
  • Larger scar
  • The surgeon has a limited view of the joint; steep learning curve for surgeons
  • Possible increased likelihood that hip components may be poorly fit or misaligned
  • Skin and soft tissue can be stretched and torn during surgery
  • This surgery typically takes longer
Patient Characteristics and Requirements
  • While there are certain medical requirements, there are no age or weight limits for otherwise eligible patients.
  • No severe osteoporosis
  • Able to follow-through with pre- and post-surgical instructions
Patients have the same medical requirements as they would traditional surgery. Additionally, evidence seems to indicate that the best candidates—
  • Are younger
  • Are relatively thin, not obese or very muscular
  • Lack bone or joint deformity
  • Have not had previous hip surgery
  • Do not have osteoporosis; osteoporosis increases the chance of bone breakage
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