When 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.