Acta Orthopaedica, 83:4, 342-346, DOI: 10.3109/17453674.2012.711701

High complication rate in the early experience of minimally invasive total hip arthroplasty by the direct anterior approach

Anne J Spaans, Joost A A M van den Hout & Stefan B T Bolder

Background and purpose There is growing interest in minimally invasive surgery techniques in total hip arthroplasty (THA). In this study, we investigated the learning curve and the early complications of the direct anterior approach in hip replacement.

Methods In the period January through December 2010, THA was performed in 46 patients for primary osteoarthritis, using the direct anterior approach. These cases were compared to a matched cohort of 46 patients who were operated on with a conventional posterolateral approach. All patients were followed for at least 1 year.

Results Operating time was almost twice as long and mean blood loss was almost twice as much in the group with anterior approach. No learning effect was observed in this group regarding operating time or blood loss. Radiographic evaluation showed adequate placement of the implants in both groups. The early complication rate was higher in the anterior approach group. Mean time of hospital stay and functional outcome (with Harris hip score and Oxford hip score) were similar in both groups at the 1-year follow-up.

Interpretation The direct anterior approach is a difficult technique, but adequate hip placement was achieved radiographically. Early results showed no improvement in functional outcome compared to the posterolateral approach, but there was a higher early complication rate. We did not observe any learning effect after 46 patients.

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