Same-Day Hip Replacements on the Rise

February 10th, 2016 by Cutter Law

An article in the Wall Street Journal describes the newest trend in hip replacement procedures: the “same-day” surgery. Describing patient Michael Burk’s experience, the article discusses the benefits of this new way of doing hip replacements.

Burk’s morning surgery took only about an hour. Within a few hours later he was walking on crutches, practicing stairs, and went home at suppertime – a stark contrast to traditional surgery, where “patients typically spend days recovering in the hospital and may need additional time in a rehabilitation center.”

So how is same-day hip replacement surgery different from the traditional method? The newer technique uses the “anterior approach”, which takes advantage of an existing space between muscles, rather than cutting through muscles, tendons and tissues in the posterior approach. Proponents say it results in faster recovery,  and requires less anesthetic and pain medication.

If the anterior approach is so much simpler and better for the patient, why is it only used in 26% of hip replacements in the US? The article says the procedure is harder for surgeons to master, and that there just isn’t enough data to show whether one method is better than the other.  Another reason is that “some doctors question whether it is safe for patients to go home after hip surgery without spending a night being monitored in a hospital.”

It does seem, though, that many doctors agree minimizing cuts through muscle results in faster healing and fewer complications. It will be interesting to see whether the approach gains popularity and whether the evidence in its favor grows accordingly.

See: Same-Day Hip Replacement (WSJ.com)

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