A primary difference between minimally invasive hip replacement surgery and traditional hip replacement surgery is the amount of skin, muscle, and other soft tissues that must be cut. The hope is that minimally invasive techniques will allow for an easier recovery in the short term and provide equal or better results in the long term.
Read more about Total Hip Replacement Surgical Procedure
The Goals of Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement Surgery
A surgeon may recommend minimally invasive hip replacement because it tends to:
- Do less damage to the skin by making a smaller incision, typically 3 to 5 inches long, compared to 6 to 10 inches long for a traditional surgery
- Leave a smaller scar(s)
- Do less damage to the joint’s surrounding muscles and other soft tissue
- Possibly enable a patient to recover and rehabilitate faster1,2
It Is Still Major Surgery
Minimally invasive hip replacement surgery is:
- Major surgery, just like a traditional hip replacement. It requires cutting and altering of bones and attaching prosthetic joint components.
- Done with a smaller incision and less of the joint area exposed, so the surgeon has a limited view of the area they are operating on.
- Considered a technically demanding procedure. It is most successful when performed by a well-trained, experienced orthopedic surgeon.
Because it is a technically challenging surgery, the patient’s choice of surgeon is important.
An Experienced Surgeon Matters
There is no credentialing system that certifies orthopedic surgeons to perform minimally invasive techniques for hip replacement. Moreover, there is a steep learning curve for surgeons who are new to this surgery. Therefore, a patient should ask a surgeon:
- How often does the surgeon perform this specific surgery?
- What are the surgeon’s success and complication rates regarding the specific procedure?
- What are the possible short- and long-term outcomes?
When considering the advantages and risks of minimally invasive hip replacement, a surgeon’s experience and success with a specific procedure should be an important factor. More surgical experience is associated with lower complication rates.6,8