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The History Of Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement has come a long way in the last 100+ years! Let’s take a look of how we progressed from there to here:

The first documented attempt at a hip replacement was in 1891, when German surgeon Themistocles Gluck replaced a hip joint with ivory implants.

Next came mold arthroplasty in 1925, where damaged hip sockets were replaced by molded glass. Invented by American surgeon Marius Smith-Petersen, these implants were, unfortunately, prone to breakage.

Fast-forward to 1940, when American doctor Austin Moore performed a metallic partial hip replacement using a prosthesis that isn’t much different than those used in partial hip replacements today.

It wasn’t until 1953, however, that English surgeon Dr. George McKee began performing total hip replacements (replacing both the ball and the socket of the hip joint). These were successful for their time, but as both pieces were made of metal, the wear and tear would break off tiny fragments that would eventually prove problematic.

Enter modern hip replacement, founded in the 1960s by English orthopedic surgeon Sir John Charnley. His prosthesis used a smaller ball joint to reduce wear and tear as well as introduced polyethylene (a type of plastic) for the socket.

Just as the materials used in hip replacement surgery have improved over the decades, so have the surgical techniques. Traditional hip replacement surgery typically involves what’s known as a posterior approach (where the surgeon accesses the joint through the back of the hip) or a lateral approach (from the side). These approaches require the surgeon to detach muscle and connective tissue. The incision used is 8 to 12 inches long.

Anterior Total Hip Replacement

An approach that is now gaining wide popularity is the anterior approach (going in through the front of the hip). The main benefit of anterior total hip replacement is that no muscles are detached during surgery. This can mean less pain and a speedier recovery for patients. The incision may also be smaller, only 3 to 4 inches long. Lastly, patients are usually permitted a wider range of motion after anterior hip replacement surgery as the risk of hip dislocation is reduced.

Our surgeons at Sonoran Orthopedic Trauma Surgeons are skilled in the anterior approach for total hip replacement. For more information, visit (link) or call us for a consultation.

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