The decision to have anterior hip replacement surgery must be made on a case-by-case basis. The patient and doctor must consider whether or not the patient is a good candidate for the surgery, the cost of surgery and recovery time, and the surgeon’s experience.
Patient Eligibility for Anterior Replacement
Traditional hip replacement is available to any patient healthy enough to undergo surgery. In contrast, the patient criteria for anterior hip replacement may be more stringent. For example, some surgeons believe that the best candidates for anterior hip replacement surgery are patients who are not obese or overly muscular. These surgeons may have specific cut-offs for eligibility (for example, a BMI below 35).
Ultimately, even if a patient is deemed a good candidate for anterior hip replacement surgery, it is up to the patient to decide whether to have anterior hip replacement, traditional hip replacement, or no surgery at all.
Choosing a Surgeon
When talking to a patient, the surgeon should provide information about the surgery, including the:
- Possible short- and long-term outcomes, including potential benefits and risks
- Steps of the procedure
- Follow-up protocol, which should include at least two follow-up appointments
- Cost of the procedure
Because there is no specific credentialing system that certifies orthopedic surgeons to perform anterior hip replacement, a patient is encouraged to ask a surgeon:
- How often do you perform this specific surgery?
- How often is this surgery performed at this hospital?
- What are your success and complication rates regarding this procedure?
- What are your main concerns when operating on a patient like me?
When weighing the advantages and risks of anterior hip replacement surgery, a surgeon’s experience and success with a specific procedure should be considered.
It is important that the risks, benefits, and alternatives of the procedure be carefully explained to the patient and their questions answered to their satisfaction. If a surgeon is unable to answer your questions about hip replacement, or if the answers provided are not satisfactory (or conversely, sound too good to be true), a second opinion may be advisable.
Getting a Second Opinion
People are often hesitant to seek a second or even third opinion. A reputable doctor will not be offended by a patient getting a second opinion from another health care provider.
Patients should keep in mind that the second opinion may or may not be more accurate than the original opinion. It is up to the patient to weigh his or her options and make the final decision. Also, remember that the majority of those who have undergone hip replacement—no matter where the surgical incision is made—have reduced hip pain, better hip function, and are satisfied with their choice.