Medically accurate illustration of the hip replacement. 3d illustration; blog: What is Direct Anterior Hip Replacement?

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 450,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States. Improvements in joint replacement surgical techniques have made both knee and hip replacements extremely successful surgeries with good patient outcomes. One technique that has been around a while but is gaining in popularity now is the direct anterior hip replacement.

South Shore Orthopedics in Hingham, MA is proud to have Dr. Jonathan Sunkin join the practice this month. Dr. Sunkin is fellowship trained in total joint arthroplasty with expertise in the direct anterior approach to hip arthroplasty. 

Direct Anterior Hip Replacement

Direct anterior hip arthroplasty is an approach to total hip replacement that was developed in the 1970s, but it started becoming more popular among orthopedic surgeons and patients in the 1990s. Dr. Sunkin says this approach is more popular than ever and more patients and surgeons are opting to use the anterior approach to hip replacement.

What is the Anterior Approach?

The anterior approach to hip replacement refers to surgeries that are done from the front of the hip. Other approaches to total hip replacement are posterior (from the back) or lateral (from the side). Typically, the posterior approach is the most conventional approach to total hip arthroplasty.

During a direct anterior hip replacement, the patient lies flat on their back. The doctor makes a small incision in the front of the hip that is being replaced. They then spread the muscles to gain access to the joint and perform the replacement procedure. During the posterior or lateral approach, a larger incision is required and muscles are typically cut.

Benefits of Direct Anterior Hip Arthroplasty

For good candidates, there are many benefits to taking the anterior approach to total hip replacement:

  • Because the muscles are spread rather than cut, many patients are more comfortable immediately following surgery.
  • Many patients are able to go home the same day. Most patients go home within 24 hours.
  • In the first weeks of recovery, patients are more comfortable and recover more quickly.
    • Many stop using canes, walkers, or crutches in the first couple of weeks.
  • During the surgery, the patient is on their back. This allows the surgeon to use X-ray guidance more easily to guide the procedure.

According to Dr. Sunkin, the long-term results of direct anterior arthroplasty are the same as with the “gold standard” posterior approach. The key benefits of direct anterior hip arthroplasty occur in the first weeks of recovery. In general hip replacement surgeries are very successful and patients see excellent results with any approach. 

Who is a Good Candidate for Direct Anterior Hip Replacement?

Most people who get hip replacements due to osteoarthritis are good candidates for this approach to joint replacement. In cases where the injury or condition is more complex, the posterior approach may be preferable.

Dr. Sunkin estimates that about 90% of the patients he sees are good candidates for this approach. The posterior approach is still more common, but he suspects that more and more people will opt for the anterior approach in the coming years so they might be equally as common soon.

Joint Replacement at South Shore Orthopedics

The team at South Shore Orthopedics is thrilled to have Dr. Jonathan Sunkin joining our practice this month to make direct anterior hip replacement more accessible to our patients. His other specialties include knee arthroscopy, partial knee replacement, and revision hip and knee replacement.

Dr. Sunkin joins our existing staff of expert physicians who specialize in a wide range of orthopedic surgical specialties. All of our providers and staff members are committed to helping our patients live their most active lives. To schedule an appointment, call our office at (781) 337-5555 or complete this appointment request form.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SSO’s priority is keeping our patients and staff healthy and safe. Our office continues to operate on a daily basis Monday – Friday from 8 am – 4 pm and we have implemented CDC recommended procedures regarding temperature checks, social distancing, and face coverings.