The debate regarding minimally invasive/minimal incision total hip arthroplasty (THA) has been simmering for a decade and a half. When assessing the impact of adult reconstruction procedures, patients and treating physicians alike are most interested in longer-term results. Improved return of function in the first 3 to 6 weeks is of some value to all patients—and perhaps of great value to younger patients—and that has been one of the purported advantages of the “minimalist” approach. But it is the long-term results that really matter.
In the October 18, 2017 issue of The Journal, Stevenson et al. provide 10-year results from a 2005 randomized trial of small-incision posterior hip arthroplasty, and they confirm it adds no clinical, radiographic, or implant-survivorship benefit when compared with a standard posterior approach. An extra caveat here is that these procedures, originally done in 2003-2004, were undertaken by a highly experienced surgeon who had performed >300 minimal-incision THAs. In the hands of surgeons with less experience, smaller incisions may result in suboptimal component positioning and other complications, a point emphasized by Stevenson et al. and by Daniel Berry in his JBJS editorial accompanying the original study.
This long-term data is of great value to patients and surgeons alike. It is my hope that such high-quality evidence will temper the claims used in marketing materials that hype minimally invasive approaches, to which hip surgeons are routinely subjected.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
The indications for arthroscopic treatment of musculoskeletal injuries continue to expand as orthopaedists find new and creative ways to apply this flexible technology. The May 2016 “Case Connections” article springboards from a May 25, 2016 JBJS Case Connector report about an isolated avulsion of the teres minor tendon that was repaired arthroscopically. That unique case is linked to three others from the JBJS Case Connector archive:
- Arthroscopic treatment of a knee flexion contracture
- Arthroscopic reduction/fixation of an acetabular rim fracture
- Arthroscopically assisted medial femoral condyle reduction
As impressive as these minimally invasive solutions are, orthopaedists should always keep in mind that arthroscopy, like any other surgical procedure, is not without its potential complications (see related “Case Connections” article).