Traditionally, total hip replacement surgery and total knee replacement surgery required patients to stay in the hospital for several days with a high level of post-operative pain. Today, one increasingly popular alternative to the traditional open surgery is minimally invasive surgery (MIS). MIS often allows patients to recover much more quickly with less pain and less scarring, and they often need to spend only one or two days in the hospital.
MIS uses smaller incisions, specially developed smaller instruments, and new surgical techniques.
Some of the short-term advantages of less invasive surgery include
- reduced incision length, which means a smaller, less visible scar.
- less discomfort immediately after surgery.
- shorter hospitalization.
- shorter rehabilitation.
- less trauma to underlying muscles and soft tissue around the hip or knee.
- less blood loss.
- less chance of post-operative blood clots.
In MIS total hip replacement surgery, the same artificial joint is used as in traditional replacement surgery. However, the surgery is accomplished through either one 4-6 inch incision or two 2-3 inch incisions, rather than the 10-12 inch incision of traditional hip replacement. Special MIS instruments help accomplish the replacement through the smaller incision. In addition, the smaller incisions don’t cut large areas of muscle tissue. The result is less pain and a faster return to a normal lifestyle.
In MIS total knee replacement surgery, the 8- to 10-inch incision of traditional surgery can be replaced with a much smaller 4- to 6-inch incision.
When using MIS techniques, surgeons sometime use a computer assisted navigational system to help ensure the surgical instruments and artificial joints are precisely in place.
MIS is not for everyone, however. Overweight or very muscular patients still require a larger incision for better visibility of the joint by the surgical team. The decision about whether to undergo a traditional or MIS joint replacement procedure should be discussed with the patient’s orthopaedic surgeon.