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New Mini-Incision Not All It's Cut Out to Be

Posted on: 10/11/2004
How does the new mini-incision method of hip replacement compare with the standard incision? That's the question doctors at Stanford University studied. Total hip replacement (THR) can be done now using only a two-and-a-half inch incision. The theory is that this mini-incision may involve fewer complications than the usual method of THR.

Three doctors replaced 135 hip joints. Fifty patients had the mini-incision. Eighty-five patients were operated on using the standard incision. Doctors collected information on each patient before the operation. Age, height, weight, type of anesthesia, and time in the operating room were some of the measures. Other measures included amount of blood loss, lab values, and number of days in the hospital.

The authors report very few differences in results between the two groups. If anything, the mini-incision group had more problems after the operation. They had more infections and a poorer fit of the implant than the standard group.

Based on the results of this study, there isn't enough evidence to support the general use of a mini-incision for THRs. The researchers at Stanford University suggest that more data should be collected about this new way of replacing hip joints.

Steven T. Woolson, MD, et al. Comparison of Primary Total Hip Replacements Performed with a Standard Incision or a Mini-Incision. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. July 2004. Vol. 86-A. No. 7. Pp. 1353-1358.

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