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Capsular resection versus capsular repair in direct anterior approach for total hip arthroplasty: a randomized controlled trial

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Optimal exposure through the direct anterior approach (DAA) for total hip arthroplasty (THA) conducted on a regular operating theatre table is achieved with a standardized capsular releasing sequence in which the anterior capsule can be preserved or resected. We hypothesized that clinical outcomes and implant positioning would not be different in case a capsular sparing (CS) technique would be compared to capsular resection (CR).


In this prospective trial, 219 hips in 190 patients were randomized to either the CS (n = 104) or CR (n = 115) cohort. In the CS cohort, a medial based anterior flap was created and sutured back in place at the end of the procedure. The anterior capsule was resected in the CR cohort. Primary outcome was defined as the difference in patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) after one year. PROMs (Harris Hip Score (HHS), Hip disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (HOOS), and Short Form 36 Item Health Survey (SF-36)) were collected preoperatively and one year postoperatively. Radiological parameters were analyzed to assess implant positioning and implant ingrowth. Adverse events were monitored.


At one year, there was no difference in HSS (p = 0.728), HOOS (Activity Daily Life, p = 0.347; Pain, p = 0.982; Quality of Life, p = 0.653; Sport, p = 0.994; Symptom, p = 0.459), or SF-36 (p = 0.338). Acetabular component inclination (p = 0.276) and anteversion (p = 0.392) as well as femoral component alignment (p = 0.351) were similar in both groups. There were no dislocations, readmissions, or reoperations in either group. The incidence of psoas tendinitis was six cases in the CS cohort (6%) and six cases in the CR cohort (5%) (p = 0.631).


No clinical differences were found between resection or preservation of the anterior capsule when performing a primary THA through the DAA on a regular theatre table. In case of limited visibility during the learning curve, it might be advisable to resect a part of the anterior capsule.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(2):321–328.

Correspondence should be sent to Frans-Jozef Vandeputte. E-mail:

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