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General Orthopaedics


Current Concepts in Joint Replacement (CCJR) – Spring 2015


The transgluteal approach (TG) offers a user-friendly alternative to the heavily promoted anterior approach (DA) to total hip arthroplasty (THA). Our purpose is to illustrate the advantages and details of the technique, illustrate the surgical anatomy that differentiates TG from the “traditional posterior” technique, and point out the surprising similarities to the DA.

Unlike the traditional posterior THA, the TG preserves ITB, quadratus, and obturator externus. The conjoined tendon is released, providing direct access to the femur via the piriformis fossa. Direct acetabular access is facilitated either by using a portal through which reaming and cup impaction are performed or offset instrumentation. Intra-operative digital radiography was used in all cases. We present the clinical and radiographic outcome of 850 consecutive primary THA using the TG.

At 2–6 years follow-up, dislocation rate was 0.3%, cup abduction 35–50 degrees in 97%, 92% used a cane within 5 days, 61% reported driving within the first post-operative week. No intra-operative trochanteric fractures, nerve injuries, or wound problems were observed. Three calcar fractures were wired. Hospital stay averaged 1.5 days, no patient received a blood transfusion if their pre-operative hematocrit was normal, and 88% of patients were discharged on acetaminophen only.

The TG is a reliable and highly successful alternative to commonly used soft tissue sparing approaches in THA. It permits accelerated recovery while assuring optimal component orientation. The surgeon familiar with the traditional posterior approach can embark on a gradual learning curve that can minimise the complication rate as the surgeon learns the technique.