Acta Orthopaedica, 89:3, 289-294, DOI: 10.1080/17453674.2018.1438694

Influence of surgical approach on complication risk in primary total hip arthroplasty

Larry E Miller, Joseph S Gondusky, Atul F Kamath, Friedrich Boettner, John Wright & Samir Bhattacharyya

Background and purpose — Systematic comparisons of anterior approach (A) versus posterior approach (P) in primary total hip arthroplasty (THA) have largely focused on perioperative outcomes. In this systematic review with meta-analysis, we compared complication risk of A versus P in studies of primary THA with at least 1-year mean follow-up.

Patients and methods — We performed a systematic review of prospective and retrospective studies with at least 1-year mean follow-up that reported complications of A and P primary THA. Complications included infection, dislocation, reoperation, thromboembolic event, heterotopic ossification, wound complication, fracture, and nerve injury. Random effects meta-analysis was used for all outcomes. Complication risk was reported as rate ratio (RR) to account for differential follow-up durations; values >1 indicated higher complication risk with A and values <1 indicated lower risk with A.

Results — 19 studies were included; 15 single-center comparative studies with 6,620 patients (2,278 A; 4,342 P) and 4 multicenter registries with 157,687 patients (18,735 A; 138,952 P). Median follow-up was 16 (12–64) months) with A and 18 (12–110) months with P. Anterior approach was associated with lower rate of infection (RR =0.55, p = 0.002), dislocation (RR =0.65, p = 0.03), and reoperation (RR =0.84, p < 0.001). No statistically significant differences were observed in rate of thromboembolic event (RR =0.59, p = 0.5), heterotopic ossification (RR =0.63, p = 0.1), wound complication (RR =0.93, p = 0.8), or fracture (RR =1.0, p = 0.9). There was a higher rate of patient-reported nerve injury with A (RR =2.3, p = 0.01).

Interpretation — Comparing A with P in primary THA, A was associated with lower risk of reoperation, dislocation, and infection, but higher risk of patient-reported nerve injury.

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