New Technique in Hip Replacement Surgery Shortens Recovery Time

As the region’s leader in advanced surgical technology, the Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at Lowell General Hospital offers patients a preferred approach for treating a growing number of conditions. Laparoscopic surgery is a modern surgical technique in which operations are performed through small incisions (usually 0.5–1.5 cm). This technique is available across a broad spectrum of specialties, including bariatrics, general surgery, gynecology, oncology, orthopedics and sports medicine, and urology, as well as ear, nose and throat procedures.

Dr. Peter Roman, orthopedic surgeon at Lowell General Hospital reviews a patient’s X-ray after a direct anterior hip replacement procedure.With benefits such as less scarring, reduced pain and blood loss and a faster recovery, minimally invasive surgery is the preferred approach whenever possible. In orthopedic and sports medicine, Lowell General’s subspecialists use minimally invasive techniques to perform arthroscopic repair of rotator cuffs, minimally invasive spine surgery, hand surgery such as endoscopic carpal tunnel, and hip joint replacement surgery.

Lowell General Hospital now offers a minimally invasive option for select hip replacement candidates called the direct anterior approach. Also called total hip arthroplasty, the surgical procedure replaces a worn out or damaged hip with an artificial joint. Traditionally, hip replacements are done from the side (lateral) or back (posterior). With the direct anterior approach, the surgeon goes in at the front of the hip, so there is no need to detach any muscles or tendons.

Peter Roman, M.D., has been an orthopedic surgeon at Lowell General for 27 years. He is thrilled to offer patients the potential benefits of increased mobility, a quicker post-op recovery, a shorter hospital stay and less restrictions following the procedure.

“As compared to a traditional hip replacement surgery, the direct anterior hip procedure requires an incision that is only 3-4 inches in length, as compared to 8-12 inches for the more traditional posterior (back) hip procedure,” says Dr. Roman. “By not cutting muscles and tendons, it means a faster post-operative recovery, and less restrictions for the patient after surgery."

"With Lowell General’s investment in new equipment and state-of-the-art surgical tables in the orthopedic surgical suites, we can now hyperextend and externally rotate the leg during hip replacement without the increased risk of fracture. We can then reach the hip joint from the front of the hip as opposed to the side or back, so work can be done between the natural spacing of the muscles. Less disruption of muscles and tendons reduces the risk of getting post-op dislocation and produces a shorter recovery time.”

The anterior approach is not for everyone, Dr. Roman notes — especially those with a higher body mass index or complex hip disorders, prior hip surgeries or advanced osteoporosis. 

“But for the right candidates, this procedure can get them out of the hospital, into physical therapy, and back into their normal routines quickly. We’re experiencing excellent patient satisfaction and great outcomes.”

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