Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hip FAQ

Question:

I saw a TV show about the new total hip replacements using only a two-inch incision. The report said the patient has just as good of results and a small scar to boot. What do the doctors say about this new way of doing things?

Answer:

Doctors and researchers are studying the pros and cons of the minimally invasive (MI) operation. Right now it’s being used to replace hip and knee joints. They are comparing how long it takes patients to recover. Other results are measured by how much blood loss occurs, how long the operation takes, and how soon patients leave the hospital.

Some doctors point out that "minimally invasive" doesn't always means minimally disruptive. It's not minimally invasive if the tendons and muscles are cut and moved out of the way no matter how small the skin incision is.

Making a small opening makes it harder for surgeons to find the true margin of the hip socket. The skin along either side of the MI is more likely to tear. This is most likely to happen when the diseased joint is taken out and the edges of the bone are filed smooth.

Many doctors are taking a "wait-and-see" approach. Until more studies are done to compare the standard method to the minimally invasive surgery, doctors will continue to use the traditional incision.

Justin de Beer, MD, FRCS(C), et al. Single-Incision, Minimally Invasive Total Hip Arthroplasty. Length Doesn't Matter. In The Journal of Arthroplasty. December 2004. Vol. 19. No. 8. Pp. 945-950.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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