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Total Hip Replacement

Dr. Lex Kenerly’s Anterior Approach To Total Hip Replacement

 

Whether you are just beginning to explore treatment options, or have been directed here by your physician, this page will help you be better informed concerning total hip replacements.


PATIENT TESTIMONIES FOR TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT – LISTEN TO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY.


The first total hip replacement was performed in 1960.  Since 1960, there have been many improvements in both the surgical techniques and technology increasing the effectiveness of total hip replacement surgery. One of the major improvements in the surgical techniques is the Anterior Approach.  The Anterior Approach is a minimally invasive surgery that allows the surgeon access the hip joint through the front of the hip as opposed to a lateral (side) approach to the hip or posterior (back) approach.  This typically means less chance of dislocation after surgery, less pain and a quicker recovery.


ANATOMNY THE HIP

The hip is a large joint composed of a ball-and-socket. The “socket” portion of the hip is part of  the acetabulum (large pelvis bone) while the “ball” is the femoral head (upper end of the femur (thighbone)).  Both the ball and socket portion of the joint are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth tissue that cushions the ends of the bones and enables them to move easily.

In a healthy hip, the membrane that surrounds the hip joint makes a small amount of fluid that lubricates the cartilage and eliminates almost all friction during hip movement.

Bands of tissue called ligaments (the hip capsule) connect the ball to the socket and provide stability to the joint.

 


COMMON CAUSES OF HIP PAIN

The most common cause of chronic hip pain and disability is arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and traumatic arthritis are the most common forms of this disease.

  • Osteoarthritis. Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints, usually occurring in people 50 years of age and older. OA causes the smooth cartilage areas to wear away allowing the bones to rub against each other, causing hip pain and stiffness. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. With this disease, the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue, including joints. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) affects joint linings, causing painful swelling and damage. Over long periods of time, the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can cause bone erosion and joint deformity. 
  • Post-traumatic arthritis. This can follow a serious hip injury or fracture. The cartilage may become damaged and lead to hip pain and stiffness over time.
  • Avascular necrosis. Also called osteonecrosis or bone infarction, is death of bone tissue due to interruption of the blood supply. Early on there may be no symptoms.  Gradually joint pain may develop which may limit the ability to move.
  • Childhood hip disease (Hip Dysplasia). Some infants and children have hip problems. Even though the problems are successfully treated during childhood, they may still cause arthritis later on in life. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT PROCEDURE

During the total hip replacement procedure, the damaged bone and cartilage are removed and replaced with prosthetic components.

  • A metal/ceramic ball is placed on the upper part of the stem. This ball replaces the damaged femoral head that was removed.
  • The damaged cartilage surface of the socket (acetabulum) is removed and replaced with a metal socket. Screws or cement are sometimes used to hold the socket in place.
  • A plastic, ceramic, or metal spacer is inserted between the new ball and the socket to allow for a smooth gliding surface.

 

 

ARE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT?

Dr. Kenerly will review your medical history, perform a thorough physical examination and take x-rays of your hip.  Other imaging and laboratory testing may be required depending on your individual case. Even if your pain is significant, and the X-rays show advanced arthritis of the joint, the first line of treatment is nearly always non-operative options. This may include weight loss, an exercise regimen, medication, injections or activity modifications. If the symptoms persist despite these measures, and with corroborating X-rays, then you may consider surgery.

The decision to proceed with a total hip replacement is typically based on the pain and disability from the arthritis influencing your quality of life and daily activities. Patients who decide to proceed with surgery commonly report that their symptoms keep them from participating in activities that are important to them like walking, taking stairs, working, sleeping, putting on socks and shoes and sitting for long periods of time. Surgery is the next option when non-operative treatments have failed.


MINIMALLY INVASIVE ANTERIOR APPROACH BY DR. J. LEX KENERLY, III, MD.

Dr. J. Lex Kenerly, III

At the Bone & Joint Institute of South Georgia (BJISG), J. Lex Kenerly, III, MD specializes in the anterior approach to total hip replacement surgery.  The anterior approach to total hip replacement is a minimally invasive procedure allowing the surgeon to make an approximate four-inch incision through the front of the hip, rather than the rear (the entry point for the more conventional posterior hip replacement surgery). Frontal entry makes it possible to reach the joint by separating rather than cutting and then reattaching muscles. The anterior hip replacement may also result in a swifter recovery and shorter hospital stay for patients, perhaps due to less muscular damage. Leg length and implant position are also able to be measured with the anterior approach.

The anterior approach allows the surgeon a good view of the hip socket and preserves all muscles. Dr. Kenerly utilizes fluoroscopy (live x-ray) during the procedure allowing for very accurate sizing and placement of the hip implants. Also, patients undergoing the anterior hip replacement often experience a quicker recovery, less pain, reduced risk of dislocation and often a shorter surgery center stay than with other techniques.


PREPARING FOR SURGERY: BE AS HEALTHY AS YOU CAN BE!

Your health is our primary concern and we want your surgery to be as successful as possible.  The following requirements are designed to improve the outcome of your surgery, decrease the risk for complications, and make your surgery as safe and effective as possible.

  • Food/Drink – Patients must refrain from eating or drinking for at least 8 hours before surgery. Make sure that you are well nourished and hydrated in the days and weeks prior to surgery (Water, Gatorade, etc).
  • Prescriptions Drugs – Discontinuing prescription and over-the-counter medications that “thin” the blood, such as aspirin is necessary prior to surgery. Any Narcotic/Opioid medications must be stopped prior to surgery as well.
  • Diabetics – make sure your blood sugar is under control. We will check your levels prior to surgery and it must be less than 120.
  • Smoking – If you are a smoker, we ask that you stop smoking at least 1 month prior to your surgery and continue to not smoke after surgery as this will help the healing process.
  • Obesity – being severely over weight can impact your healing negatively. We require that surgical patients have a BMI score of no more than 35.
  • Nourishment – It is vital that you take care of yourself and eat a healthy diet consisting of plenty of vegetables and proteins.  Cut out all unnecessary sugars, starches, chips, sodas and junk food in general.  Try to eat a well-balanced meal to give your body the nutrition it needs to heal.
  • Skin – make sure to take care of your skin in the weeks prior to surgery. No bug bites, scratches, etc – this allows additional places for germs to hide.

What to expect before surgery:  Blood will be drawn for standard lab work as well as an EKG will be done to verify your heart health for surgery.  A1C levels will be checked to make sure blood sugars are normal.  If surgical clearance is required, we will obtain that from your primary care physician and/or cardiologist.


PLAN FOR YOUR SURGERY: BEFORE AND AFTER!

Make sure to plan on the fact that you are having surgery.  

  • Bring with you a designated driver to the surgery.
  • Make sure you have friends and family lined up to help you during the healing process.  
  • Make sure there are no trip hazards at your home.
  • You will be given a prescription for pain medications after surgery – make sure someone can get it for you.
  • Become an active member in your recovery process.

AFTER YOUR SURGERY, YOUR HIP IS READY FOR FULL WEIGHT BEARING. WITH THE AID OF A THERAPIST, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO GET UP AND WALK DIRECTLY AFTER RECOVERY.

  • Once you go home, you will be able to walk independently with progressive walking and weaning away from your walker from 2-30 days.
  • You will be able to promptly progreee into resuming normal household activities.
  • Formal therapy usually is not required after the first 1-2 days.

COMPLICATIONS COULD INCLUDE BLOOD CLOTS – IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU WALK AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.  BY WALKING, IT INCREASES BLOOD FLOW AND REDUCES THE CHANCES OF CLOTS.  INFECTION IS ALWAYS A RISK WITH ANY SURGERY.  TO LOWER ANY CHANCE OF INFECTION, MAKE SURE TO REVIEW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PREPARE FOR SURGERY.  YOU CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR RECOVERY.


CLICK ANY OF THE FOLLOWING VIDEOS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENTS.

      

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How long will a new hip joint last?
Total joint replacements typically last approximately 15-20 years. It is important to maintain long-term follow-up exams with your surgeon to assure your replacement is functioning appropriately.
After surgery, is recovery very painful?
You may have relatively mild pain following the procedure, or you may have a more difficult time than others. Everyone is unique and handles and perceives pain differently. Keep in mind that while pain management has greatly improved, a pain-free surgery is unlikely. You will want to take your pain medicines as directed by your surgeon.
What is minimally invasive surgery?
Minimally invasive surgery is a term that describes a combination of reducing the incision length and lessening tissue disruption beneath the incision. The anterior approach to total hip replacement allows Dr. Kenerly to make only a 4-6” incision typically. This also includes cutting less muscle and detaching less tendon from bone. There have also been advancements in anesthesia and pain management during and after surgery. All of these practices allow you to feel better, have less pain, and regain function faster than in the recent past.
How big will my scar be?
Typically, the incision will be about 4 inches long but depending on the surgical needs – it is what is done underneath the skin that counts not the length of the incision!
Will I need general anesthesia?
Typically, a spinal block is used and is a very safe option. There are other options available as well depending on what is best for each patient.
How long will I stay at the surgical center?
It varies. Some patients will go home the same day while others may need to stay a couple of days. This is highly dependent upon your condition before surgery, your age, and medical problems which can influence your recovery. A safe discharge plan will be arranged for you by our orthopaedic team.
How long does it take to recover?
The majority of people who undergo total hip replacement are able to participate in a majority of their daily activities by six weeks. By three months, most people have regained much the endurance and strength lost around the time of surgery, and can participate in daily activities without restriction. While daily activities have resumed, it is important to avoid high impact activities to give you the best long-term outcome with your hip.
Will I need Physical Therapy?
This is very patient dependant, but Hip replacement patients need very little therapy. We want to make sure you care careful walking with crutches and/or walker. The hip is structurally sounds soon as the surgery is over.
When can I shower?
We used advanced water proof bandages so you typically can take a shower within 48-72 hours depending.
When can I walk after surgery?
The same day! Most people are walking with the assistance of a walker on the day after surgery. The quicker patients walk has been shown to reduce the risk of a post-operative blood clot and is an important part of your recovery. Within the first month or two after surgery, you may walk using a cane or no walking aids depending on your progress. Despite the rapid progression to moving without assistance, it is typically not recommended that you return to aggressive/sporting activities until the third month after surgery.
When can I drive?
Depending on which leg… the right hip would obviously take a little longer to properly use the brake and gas pedals. All patients have to be off narcotics and no longer depend on a walker before they are able to drive on their own. Most patients are driving at four to six weeks after surgery, and sometimes sooner if the operative leg is the left leg.
When can I return to work?
Returning to work is highly dependent on your general health, activity level and demands of your job. If you have a sedentary job, such as computer work, you can expect to return to work in two to three weeks. If you have a more demanding job that requires lifting, walking, or travel, you may need up to three months for full recovery
What restrictions will I have after surgery?
Very few. We advise against any extremes – no extreme positions, no yoga, etc., the first week after surgery.
Will my implant set off metal detectors at airports and courthouses?

Usually patients with joint replacements will set off metal detectors. This should not be of great concern. It is reasonable for you to inform the TSA screening agent at the airport that you have had a joint replacement; however, you will still require screening and will need to follow the directions of the screening agent. There are millions of individuals with joint replacements, and screening protocols recognize that people who have had joint replacements may set off detectors. You do not need to carry specific documentation to prove that you have a joint replacement.

Will I need to take antibiotics prior to seeing a dentist or having other surgical procedures?

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery (AAOS) and American Dental Association (ADA) have generally recommended short-term antibiotics prior to dental procedures (one dose one hour prior to dental procedure) for patients who have had joint replacements. This recommendation continues for up to two years after your joint replacement. 

Two or more years after the replacement, continued use of antibiotics prior to dental procedures is based on the discretion of the treating surgeon and the patient. Your surgeon will consider many factors including whether or not you are at increased risk of infection due to immune suppression (i.e. diabetic, transplant patients, and rheumatoid arthritis). 

The use of prophylactic antibiotics prior to dental cleanings and other invasive procedures remains controversial. Most orthopaedic surgeons now recommend lifetime suppression. Patients should discuss whether or not they need antibiotics prior to dental or other invasive procedures with their treating orthopedic surgeon. See also “Preventing Infection in Your Joint at the Dentist’s Office.”

Should I continue to see my surgeon after I’ve healed?

It is important to follow up with your surgeon after your joint replacement. In most cases, joint replacements last for many years.

The frequency of required follow up visits is dependent on many factors including the age of the patient, the demand levels placed on the joint, and the type of replacement. We will consider all these factors and tailor a follow-up schedule to meet your needs. 

In general, seeing your surgeon every three to five years is recommended.