Does Surgical Approach Influence the Natural History of the Unstable Total Hip Arthroplasty?

J Arthroplasty. 2022 Apr;37(4):787-794. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2021.12.012. Epub 2021 Dec 17.


Background: Dislocation following total hip arthroplasty (THA) is a significant complication that occurs in 0.3%-10% of cases with 13%-42% of patients requiring revision surgery. The literature has primarily focused on the dislocation risk associated with different surgical approaches. However, little is known about the natural history of the dislocated hip and whether surgical approach of the index THA is associated with further instability and revision surgery.

Methods: This is a retrospective, single-center, multi-surgeon consecutive case series of all patients who experienced THA dislocation from 2002 to 2020. Patients were excluded if the initial dislocation was secondary to infection or fracture. The natural history of the cohort as per approach was determined. Outcome measurements of interest were the number of dislocations; the treatment surrounding each dislocation; the necessity and type of revision; and the complications encountered.

Results: Of the 75 patients, 58 (77%) dislocated within 6 months following primary THA. The anterior group had greater odds of dislocation within 2 weeks post-THA compared to the lateral and posterior groups (P = .04). The mean number of dislocations per patient was significantly lower in the anterior (1.5 ± 0.7) compared to the lateral (2.4 ± 1.2) and posterior (2.1 ± 1.0) groups (P = .02). Revision surgery was needed in 30% (6/20) of patients in the anterior, 69% (25/36) of the posterior, and 68% (13/19) of the lateral groups (P = .01).

Conclusion: This study illustrates that while primary THA dislocations happen earlier with the anterior approach, they are typically less complicated and have a lower risk of recurrent instability and revision surgery.

Keywords: anterior approach; dislocation; natural history; revision; total hip replacement.

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip* / adverse effects
  • Hip Dislocation* / epidemiology
  • Hip Dislocation* / etiology
  • Hip Dislocation* / surgery
  • Hip Prosthesis* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations* / surgery
  • Reoperation / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors