Anterior Hip Replacement:
A new approach to joint pain relief
Ginny Kurk’s pain was relentless. After successful knee surgery years ago, she started experiencing arthritic pain again, but the source was difficult to identify: it could have been the sciatic nerve, the lower back, or the hip. Ginny returned to her knee surgeon, Dr. Robert Ference, for help. Dr. Ference ordered x-rays, and found that Ginny’s hip had deteriorated badly. This was the source of her pain. Ginny would require a total hip replacement.
“It’s a minimally invasive total hip replacement,” says Dr. Ference. “It’s called the anterior hip approach, and it’s different than the traditional hip replacement and other minimally invasive surgeries in that we detach no muscle whatsoever.”
That distinction makes the approach innovative. “Anterior” means front. The majority of hip surgeries use an approach from the side or the back. Anterior approach allows a natural plane to be divided and also allows the surgeon to preserve the muscle attachments. It is much more technically complex that traditional hip replacements. But there is a big payoff in the recovery, because the patient does not have any severed muscles to rehab as in traditional surgery. This new approach can reduce the recovery time from up to a year down to mere weeks. In addition, the incision is reduced from eight to 12 inches, to just three or four.
Hip surgery is often required we arthritis affects the joints ability to move smoothly. Arthritis wears on the cartilage where the bones meet, and can progress to the point Ginny reached – severe, constant pain. In a joint replacement the bone regions of the joint are removed, and the metal parts are secured in place. This means that new metal parts are now gliding smoothly against each other, taking away that pain.
The relief provided by this anterior hip replacement along with the care provided by Dr. Ference and his team, make all the difference to patients like Ginny. “I can’t say enough about him,” she says. “I just think he’s great. He’s so compassionate and he wants you to be out of pain.”
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