Question:I've had two total hip replacements. The first was a full incision and took me six months to get back on my feet and up to speed. The second one was three weeks ago with two tiny cuts. I'm already walking without a walker for up to 30 minutes. I still have a little trouble with stairs but that seems to be coming. Is a smaller incision really all that makes the difference?
The operation you had is called a minimally invasive total hip replacement (THR). Two small incisions are made: one in the front of the hip and one to the side. Besides the small cuts, there are other important differences from the standard THR.
No muscles or tendons are cut in a minimally invasive THR. The joint capsule is cut, but not removed. The joint itself is removed in several pieces. No cement is used to hold the new implant in place.
Overall, less trauma to the soft tissues and joint mean less pain and a faster recovery time. Patients can stop taking pain killers and get back to normal function faster. In fact most patients are able to put weight on the operated leg the same day as the surgery. Many go home in the first 24 hours.Richard A. Berger, MD, et al. Rapid Rehabilitation and Recovery with Minimally Invasive Total Hip Arthroplasty. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. December 2004. Vol. 429. Pp. 239-247.
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