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Optimal hip capsular release for joint exposure in hip resurfacing via the direct anterior approach

a biomechanical study

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Surgical approaches that claim to be minimally invasive, such as the direct anterior approach (DAA), are reported to have a clinical advantage, but are technically challenging and may create more injury to the soft-tissues during joint exposure. Our aim was to quantify the effect of soft-tissue releases on the joint torque and femoral mobility during joint exposure for hip resurfacing performed via the DAA.


Nine fresh-frozen hip joints from five pelvis to mid-tibia cadaveric specimens were approached using the DAA. A custom fixture consisting of a six-axis force/torque sensor and motion sensor was attached to tibial diaphysis to measure manually applied torques and joint angles by the surgeon. Following dislocation, the torques generated to visualize the acetabulum and proximal femur were assessed after sequential release of the joint capsule and short external rotators.


Following initial exposure, the ischiofemoral ligament (7 to 8 o’clock) was the largest restrictor of exposure of the acetabulum, contributing to a mean 25% of overall external rotational restraint. The ischiofemoral ligament (10 to 12 o’clock) was the largest restrictor of exposure of the proximal femur, contributing to 25% of overall extension restraint. Releasing the short external rotators had minimal contribution in torque generated during joint exposure (≤ 5%).


Adequate exposure of both proximal femur and acetabulum may be achieved with minimal torque by performing a full proximal circumferential capsulotomy while preserving short external rotators. The joint torque generated and exposure achieved is dependent on patient factors; therefore, some cases may necessitate further releases.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2024;106-B(3 Supple A):59–66.

Correspondence should be sent to Jonathan R. T. Jeffers. E-mail:

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