Nathan R. Ehmer, D.O. Santa Rosa Orthopaedic Surgeon Nathan Ehmer concurs with the latest research showing total hip replacement patients are back on the road much sooner, particularly with patients who undergo the anterior approach to THR.

At the presentation of the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) one topic of discussion was focused on research presented by the Journal of Arthroplasty pertaining to how soon after undergoing hip replacement surgery (THR) patients are able to resume normal tasks – like driving.

Results of the study confirm what Santa Rosa Orthopaedic (SRO) surgeon Nathan Ehmer D.O. is seeing in his own patients, that the majority of THR patients are able to begin to resume normal activities in just weeks following surgery. “Total hip replacement surgery has been utilized by surgeons for decades – generally as a way to treat hip trauma and late stage arthritis of the hip,” explained SRO’s Dr. Nathan Ehmer D.O. “Many clinical studies have demonstrated far less muscle damage and weakness in both the short and long-term with the anterior approach when compared with other approaches. For many of our patients, this means a quicker return of function much sooner.”

There are now several surgical approaches that orthopedic surgeons employ to access the hip joint in a total hip replacement surgery, depending on the direction that the surgery is performed; Posterior Approach (the back of the hip), Lateral or Anterolateral Approach (side of the hip) and the Anterior Approach.

Anterior Approach THR Surgery

Anterior hip surgery requires a making minimal incision on the front of the hip. In this way the surgeon is able to move the muscles aside rather than cutting through them, causing less damage and trauma to the soft issues around the hip, allowing a quicker recovery time. “An added bonus to this procedure is that there is a lower risk the new prosthesis becoming dislocated as the muscles used to support the hip joint are not damaged by the surgery,” said Dr. Ehmer.

Trauma specialist Dr. Nathan Ehmer was fellowship trained in orthopedic trauma with an emphasis on pelvis and hip reconstructive surgery. He is the first surgeon to offer the anterior approach to total hip replacement at both Sutter Hospital and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa. “For patients undergoing THR using the anterior approach, this means a quicker return of function in just the first few months,” said Dr. Ehmer. “Furthermore, a quicker recovery typically equates to a shorter hospital stay, and a higher percent of our patients are able to go directly home rather than transferring to a nursing home for recovery.”

Although not all patients are candidates to have hip replacements using the anterior approach, and not all patients return to normal activities at two weeks, advancements in surgical technology and patient outcomes research point to a noticeable increase in the effectiveness of this approach.

Research results is good news for anyone considering THR

The fact that THR patients are able to return to normal activities, including driving – is good news for anyone considering surgery. As part of the Journal of Arthroplasty driving study researchers assessed a total of 38 patients who underwent total hip replacement between 2013 and 2014. Driving performance was evaluated using the Brake Reaction Test (BRT), measuring brake time reaction following a stimulus. All patients underwent an assessment prior to surgery to establish a baseline reaction time, and were retested at two, four and six week intervals following surgery. Patients were allowed to drive when their postoperative reaction time was equal to or less than their preoperative baseline reaction time. The results of the study showed that 33 (87 percent) reached their baseline time within two weeks. The remaining patients (13 percent) reached their baseline by four weeks.

About SRO

At Santa Rosa Orthopaedics, Dr. Ehmer is part of a collaborative team of multi-specialist orthopedic surgeons and highly skilled physical and occupational therapists. In its efforts to bring the best outcomes to patients, SRO offers patients in-house diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation, sports injury prevention, as well as advanced surgical treatments in joint replacement, sports medicine, trauma care, hand, foot, ankle, and general orthopedic surgery. For more information about Dr. Ehmer and the other SRO surgeons, visit or call 707.546.1922.