Steadman Clinic Surgeon Shares History and Vision of Anterior Hip Replacement

Matta Method Exhibit at American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Focuses On Delivering Better Patient Outcomes Through Minimally Invasive Anterior Approach to Total Hip Replacement

More than 12,000 surgeons from around the world gathered recently for the annual American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) conference in Las Vegas. As part of the conference, more than 700 exhibitors displayed some of the newest technology available for orthopaedic surgery.

One of those exhibits was the Matta Method, a trademarked anterior approach to total hip replacement. Over the past two decades, Dr. Joel Matta, one of the most recognized and impactful names in hip surgery and a surgeon at The Steadman Clinic, has been perfecting the Matta Method and teaching it to thousands of surgeons worldwide since the mid-’90s.

“I started working on the anterior approach hip replacement about 23 years ago after I learned about it in France,” said Dr. Matta. “The main reason I started it was to prevent dislocation of the hip, to ensure correct leg length and secure the position of the hip socket, three of the most common problems with hip replacement surgery.”

The Matta Method uses the anterior approach, meaning the surgeon begins the procedure from the front of the hip. For 15 years Dr. Matta has been working with DePuy Synthes to create the tools and technology that make the Matta Method so successful.

“I originally used an operating table made in France,” said Dr. Matta. “The French table went out of production because there weren’t enough physicians doing the anterior approach. So, I worked with a company in California to create a similar table, known as the HANA table, that helps manipulate and hold the leg to allow easier access to the hip.

“In 2003 I taught the first anterior approach for total hip replacement course. At that time, less than one percent of surgeons were using the anterior approach. Because there was such a positive response, I knew I needed an educational partner so I chose DePuy Synthes. Now there are 1,000 physicians each year taking this course. A survey at the Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons late last year indicated 40 percent of surgeons, especially younger surgeons, are now using the anterior approach technique.”

Dr. Matta continues to improve the Matta Method. He regularly adds new technology with the ultimate goal of better patient outcomes. First, he developed the HANA table, and then he added an image intensifier to confirm leg length.

“Believe it or not, for 40 or 50 years surgeons eyeballed it to see if the leg length was correct,” said Dr. Matta. “They would take an X-ray the next day to see how they did. To me, this was nonsense. You need real time X-rays and real time measurements in the operating room. The most precise measurements should be used during the surgery, not after. If you say to a patient ‘we’ll do the surgery and we’ll check the next day and see how we did’ or ‘we can get real time measurements during the surgery,’ which do you want to do?”

“Fifteen years ago, people said the anterior approach was experimental and it kind of was. Since then we have many supporting studies that prove this is a good method. The data shows the Matta Method leads to decreased hospital stays, quicker rehabilitation and less pain.”

The Matta Method exhibit at AAOS showed off the new technology that makes the method successful. 

“Part of the technology is computer software called Joint Point. The digital information allows for real time feedback. We can measure millimeter by millimeter for the leg length and degree by degree on the angle of the cup. We also have Actis, the femoral hip replacement prosthesis, Kincise adaptors and surgical instruments for use with anterior approach.”

Dr. Matta explained working with The Steadman Clinic is critical to his work and research.

“That’s one reason I came to Steadman,” said Dr. Matta. “I was at a hospital in California and decisions came from the corporate office. If we needed a surgical table, the process could take years.  I asked for another table at our outpatient surgery center and we got one in a month because The Steadman Clinic understands the need to keep up with new technology, and providing patients the best possible outcomes. But, there’s still more to be done.

“I was giving a talk about the Matta Method and I got a question.  ‘Do you think this is the final answer and the best way to do hip surgery?’ I thought for a moment and I said, ‘I certainly hope not. I don’t want innovation in hip surgery to stop on this stage with me’.”

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