Minimally Invasive Hip Surgery Gets Patients Active Faster – A Patient Story

Thomas Bradbury, MDWhen I first met Mark Putnam, he had chronic pain in his right groin and lower back caused by osteoarthritis of the hip. At 49, Mark felt twice his age. His local orthopedic surgeon was uncomfortable performing surgery because of the extent of the damage to the joint and instead referred Mark to the Emory Orthpaedics & Spine Center.

Mark needed a total hip replacement, and I knew he would be an excellent candidate for anterior total hip arthroplasty, an Emory-pioneered minimally invasive surgery that involved a new approach to the hip joint. Hip arthroplasty traditionally is performed through the posterior, or back, of the hip. This means the surgeon has to remove muscle and ligaments from the bone in order to reach the affected area. Because it takes a while for the tissues to heal after posterior total hip arthroplasty, the range of motion the hip can have for the first couple of months is restricted to prevent dislocation.

Anterior total hip arthroplasty has changed the way we perform hip replacement surgery at Emory. During the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon enters the front of the hip, as opposed to the back, via a single, very short incision to the patient’s leg. Because the surgeon can expose the hip without removing as much muscle and ligament from the bones around the hip joint, the patient retains a better range of motion in the hip and has greater hip stability following surgery.

While anterior total hip arthroplasty takes longer than traditional posterior surgery, the quick recovery time more than makes up for it. After surgery, Mark was pain free for the first time in years.

“It’s been terrific,” he said. “I was out the other day playing catch with my son, and I got down in a catcher’s squat and it didn’t even affect me.”

I encourage you to read up on the details of Mark’s total hip arthroplasty, and watch a video on Mark’s journey. Have you had anterior total hip arthroplasty? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.

About Thomas Bradbury, MD

Thomas Bradbury, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery. He holds clinic at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center at Executive Park and performs surgery at Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital (EUOSH). Dr. Bradbury’s professional goal is the improvement in quality of life for patients with pain secondary to hip and knee problems. He started practicing at Emory in 2007.

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  • Maxine S.

    I’ve participated in total hip replacements in during my clinical rotations and I always wondered what the recovery would be like for such an invasive procedure. It’s great that Emory is staying on top when it comes to new procedures. It really shows that these doctors are innovative and advocate for the patient.

  • Katie

    I’m 26 years old and suffer from osteoarthritis of the hips and other injuries due to a motor vehicle accident. I was recently diagnosed with a subchondral hip cyst and am trying to find out the normal recovery time after surgery to correct this as well as any post-op activity and daily living restrictions. When will I be able to return to work as a receptionist? Will this make getting around my house and workplace impossible? What about driving? (its my right hip) How will having this surgery affect the way I care for my old daughter? If anyone can answer some of these questions, I’d appreciate it, I do not see my doctor for a week or so to discuss my concerns and am trying to get some information to somewhat calm the anxiety and fear I have regarding this condition and procedure.

    • Personal information removed to protect patient privacy.

    • Hey Katie,

      I can’t speak to your specific circumstances without seeing you in-person, but here is some info that should help in general. Subchondral cysts form as a result of a degenerative process is the hip joint. Treatment of the cyst itself will likely not result in any significant improvement. Treatment decisions in your case should be made based on the severity of the arthritis in the joint. However, your young age adds difficulty to finding the best option. Treatment options include everything from conservative treatments with medication and therapy to joint replacement surgery. The best route of treatment is best discussed with an orthopaedic surgeon. Based on the treatment selected, your surgeon can give you further information about recovery and joint function.

      -Dr. Tom Bradbury

  • Cecilia

    I had anterior hip replacement. It is fantastic, really almost unbelievable. I had very little pain certainly none that required pain meds. I was up and going out to eat, grocery shopping in about 3 weeks. Did not drive until 4th week. I still cannot believe what a difference this has made in my life. I don’t think I had any idea that I would ever feel this good again, Never thought my back would be straight again. Anyone who is informed that they need hip replacement, inquire about it as soon as you can, You will never regret it. EUOSH has super physicians. The hospital is the best and they certainly take very good care of you. Wonderful staff, and a special thanks to everyone there. Again, thank you to Dr. Bradbury, I have my life back again.