The learning curve for the direct anterior total hip arthroplasty: a systematic review
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BACKGROUND: The direct anterior approach (DAA) for total hip arthroplasty (THA) is a muscle-sparing approach thought to have less post-operative pain and quicker recovery, with similar functional outcomes to other approaches. However, it is technically challenging and transitioning surgeons may experience increased complication rates. The purpose of this systematic review is to identify reported learning curves associated with the DAA. METHODS: Three databases (MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science) were searched using terms including "total hip arthroplasty," "direct anterior approach," and "learning curve." Study characteristics, patient demographics, learning curve analyses, and complications were abstracted. RESULTS: Twenty-one studies met inclusion criteria, with a total of 9738 patients (60% female), an average age of 63.7 years (range: 13-94), body mass index of 27.0 kg/m2 (range: 16.8-58.9), and follow-up of 19 months (range: 1.5-100). There were five retrospective cohort studies and 13 case series representing fair methodological quality. Six studies depicted a true learning curve, with mean operative time of 156.59 ± 41.71 minutes for the first case, 93.18 ± 14.68 minutes by case 30, and 80.45 ± 12.28 minutes by case 100. Mean complication rate was 20.8 ± 12.7% in early groups and decreased to 7.6 ± 7.1% in late groups. CONCLUSION: This review demonstrated a substantial learning curve associated with the DAA to THA. Operative time plateaued after approximately 100 cases. Complication rates decreased substantially from early to late groups.
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