Is Limited Incision Better Than Standard Total Hip Arthroplasty? A Meta-analysis

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The literature comparing limited incision and standard incision THAs is confusing regarding whether limited incision THA improves short-term recovery without compromising long-term durability and survival. Further, previously published meta-analyses cannot conclude that limited incision THA is better. With new data, we seek to discover if the answers now exist.


We used meta-analysis to compare surgical and hospitalization data, clinical outcomes, and complication rates, and thus (1) confirm whether limited incision THA is at least comparable to standard incision THA; and (2) determine whether limited incision THA is an improvement over standard incision THA.


The PubMed database was searched using the terms “minimally”, “invasive”, and “total hip”. Inclusion was limited to studies directly comparing limited incision with standard incision THA and reporting effect sizes.


We identified 418 articles. Of these 11 provided background information and 30 provided data (3548 THAs) for the systematic review. Limited incision THA was better than standard incision THA in four measures: length of hospitalization (6 versus 7 days), VAS pain at discharge (2 versus 4), blood loss (421 mL versus 494 mL), and the Harris hip score at 3 months postoperation (90 versus 84). There were no outcomes for which standard incision was better. There was no major difference in the rate of complications.


Short-term recovery favors limited incision over standard incision THA. The lack of consistent reporting for surgical outcomes, clinical outcomes, and complications continues to create difficulties when comparing limited and standard incision THAs.

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