Recovering from traditional joint replacement surgery can be a long, painful process. Traditional surgery typically involves a long incision where the surgeon has to cut muscles, tendons and/or ligaments to access the joint. The more tissues cut, the longer it usually takes for a patient to heal.

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) allows traditional procedures to be preformed through a smaller incision. Using modified techniques and instruments, surgeons can place the same implants used in traditional surgery, but through an incision one-half to one-third the size.

Potential benefits for minimally invasive joint replacement include:

• Reduced blood loss and reduced need for pre-surgery donation

• Smaller scars and less tissue trauma

• Shorter hospital stay – 1 to 2 days; some patients can go home in less than 24 hours

• Faster and less painful rehabilitation

• Quicker return to work and daily activities

Although most patients who are eligible for traditional replacement surgery are candidates for MIS procedures, there are exceptions. Patients may not be eligible if they are extremely overweight, very muscular, if they recently had a blood clot, are on an unstable medication or already had the surgery on the same joint.

There is no reason to believe that the longevity of a joint replaced with a MIS technique will be different than one replaced with traditional surgery. Of course, as with any surgery, individual results will vary. How long a replacement lasts, no matter how the procedure is performed, varies depending on numerous factors, including bone quality, weight, activity level and other health factors.

Although insurance plans vary, an MIS procedure is usually covered in the same manner that traditional joint replacement surgery is covered. Patients should check their insurance plan in advance to be sure before undergoing the procedure.