Traditional hip replacement surgery
is done through an incision that is usually about 5 to 8 inches in length. Beneath the incision, the muscle is separated, and the hip joint is exposed. The surgeon then removes the arthritic hip joint, and replaces this with a metal and plastic implant. The surgeon performs this surgery by looking directly at the arthritic hip joint, and setting the artificial hip implant into place. After surgery, patients commonly stay in the hospital 4 to 6 days, and often require months of rehabilitation.
New techniques have been developed that allow the surgeon to perform the same surgery (hip replacement) through two small incisions and with minimal muscle dissection. The surgeon does not look directly at the arthritic hip, rather, he or she uses x-ray guidance in the operating room to position the artificial hip. The hope is that patients who undergo this minimally invasive hip replacement will have shorter hospital stays, quicker rehabilitation, and better results. However, being a new surgery, there are questions as to whether or not this is actually a "better" procedure.
Hip replacement surgery is among the most successful (in terms of satisfied patients) procedures available today. However, surgeons are constantly trying to improve hip replacement. The goal of the two-incision hip replacement is to provide a procedure that has less surgical morbidity (meaning less pain, less blood loss, less rehabilitation), but as good, or better, overall results. So far, some surgeons have been able to show results that this procedure may indeed have less pain and less blood loss, but there is great debate as to whether or not the overall results are better, or even as good
, as traditional hip replacement surgery