Question:Two years ago I had a total hip replacement. Now I'm ready to have the other one done. My doctor wants to put this second one in with a new operation. There will only be two small incisions made to insert the implant. I can't really ask my doctor this question, but I'm worried. How do you know when a doctor has done enough "new" operations to do a good job?
This is a very real concern for some patients. Actually, doctors wonder the same thing. Researchers have been collecting data to help sort out some answers. A recent report of 159 doctors presents the results of 851 total hip replacements (THRs) using this method.
Minimally invasive surgery uses new technology that allows the doctor to make smaller openings into the body. Special tools and X-ray imaging called fluoroscopy guide the surgeon.
Each surgeon in this study reported on the first 10 patients to get a THR using the MI approach. It turns out surgeons who do more than 50 THRs every year have the best results. They don't necessarily get better at the MI method. Their overall experience improves their skills. The only thing that changes as they do more THRs by MI is the amount of time it takes to do the operation and to use the fluoroscopy.Michael J. Archibeck, MD, and Richard E. White, Jr., MD. Learning Curve for the Two-Incision Total Hip Replacement. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. December 2004. Vol. 429. Pp. 232-238.
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