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Int Orthop. 2011 Jan;35(1):19-24. doi: 10.1007/s00264-009-0903-1. Epub 2009 Nov 11.

Does computer-assisted surgery benefit leg length restoration in total hip replacement? Navigation versus conventional freehand.

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1st Orthopedic Department, C.T.O. Hospital, Via Bignami 1, 20100, Milan, Italy.


Leg length discrepancy following total hip replacement (THR) can contribute to poor hip function. Abnormal gait, pain, neurological disturbance and patient dissatisfaction have all been described as a result of leg length inequality after THR. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the use of computer navigation in THR can improve limb length restoration and early clinical outcomes. We performed a matched-pair study comparing 48 computer-assisted THR with 48 THRs performed using a traditional freehand alignment method. The same implant with a straight non-modular femoral stem was used in all cases. The navigation system used allowed the surgeon to monitor both acetabular cup placement and all the phases of femoral stem implantation including rasping. Patients were matched for age, sex, arthritis level, pre-operative diagnosis and pre-operative leg length discrepancy. At a minimum follow-up of six months, limb length discrepancy was measured using digital radiographs and a standardised protocol. The number of patients with a residual discrepancy of 10 mm or more and/or a post-operative over-lengthening were measured. The clinical outcome was evaluated using both the Harris Hip Score and the normalised Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) Arthritis Index. Restoration of limb length was significantly better in the computer-assisted THR group. The number of patients with a residual limb length discrepancy greater than 10 mm and/or a post-operative over-lengthening was significantly lower. No significant difference in the Harris Hip Score or normalised WOMAC Arthritis Index was seen between the two groups. The surgical time was significantly longer in the computer-assisted THR group. No post-operative dislocations were seen.

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