The hip joint consists of a rounded part – the femoral head – and a concave socket – the pelvis acetabulum. The femoral head rotates freely within the acetabulum. In order to prevent friction, the area is covered by a smooth, shiny tissue -the cartilage- and by a small quantity of synovial fluid, acting as lubricant for the movements of the joint.
Hip osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease, developing as a result of damage to the cartilage, which covers the surfaces of the joint. This results in stiffness and limping, with progressively increasing pain felt at the point where the leg joins the trunk, or in the front part of the leg, sometimes being reflected on the knee. All these symptoms oblige the patient to diminished activity.
In the early stages the condition is treated with medications. When this is no longer enough, a surgical intervention, total hip arthroplasty, becomes necessary. A successful operation allows the patient to resume a normal way of life.
The arthroplasty consists in replacement of the damaged bone and cartilage of the joint by an artificial joint, consisting of a femoral stem with a rounded head and an acetabulum cup. The operation can be performed using various techniques, which differ mainly in the surgical approach, that is the placement, direction and length of the incision that the surgeon uses to get to the joint.
The classic methods, using a lateral or posterior approach, necessitate long incisions, with significant injury to the soft tissues. This results in correspondingly significant blood loss during the operation, making it necessary to transfuse at least one unit of blood. Postoperatively, for a period of about six weeks, which is the time needed for the soft tissues to heal, the patients may suffer from pain, they are not allowed to move freely and they have to use a walking aid, such as crutches or walkers.
In recent years an effort has been made to solve these problems, using minimally invasive surgical techniques. Our large experience in total hip arthroplasty has shown, that the best results are achieved with the technique used by our team at Athens Medical Center. This is the ASI (Anterior Supine Intermuscular) technique, which ensures a smooth postoperative course, fast recovery and excellent long-term results.