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IMPORTANCE: Each approach for primary total hip arthroplasty (THA) has a long learning curve, so a surgeon's choice to change their preferred approach needs to be guided by clear justifications. However, current evidence does not suggest that any of the THA approaches are more beneficial than others, and the choice of approach is mainly based on the knowledge and experience of the surgeon and individual patient characteristics. OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy and safety associated with different surgical approaches for THA. DATA SOURCES: A comprehensive search of PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases from inception to March 26, 2022; reference lists of eligible trials; and related reviews. STUDY SELECTION: Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) comparing different surgical approaches, including the 2-incision approach, direct anterior approach (DAA), direct lateral approach (DLA), minimally invasive direct lateral approach (MIS-DLA), minimally invasive anterolateral approach (MIS-ALA), posterior approach (PA), minimally invasive posterior approach (MIS-PA), and supercapsular percutaneously assisted total hip arthroplasty (SuperPath), for primary THA. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses, 2 reviewers independently extracted data on study participants, interventions, and outcomes as well as assessed the risk of bias using the Cochrane risk of bias tool and the certainty of evidence using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation framework. A frequentist framework was used to inform a series of random-effects network meta-analyses. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The outcomes were hip score (range, 0-100, with higher scores indicating better overall hip condition), pain score (range, 0-100, with higher scores indicating more pain), hospitalization time, operation time, quality of life score, blood loss, cup abduction angle, and cup anteversion angle. RESULTS: Of 2130 retrieved studies, 63 RCTs including 4859 participants (median [IQR] age, 64.0 [60.3-66.5] years; median [IQR] percentage male, 46.74% [38.64%-54.74%]) were eligible for analysis. Eight surgical approaches were evaluated. For hip score, DAA (mean difference [MD], 4.04; 95% CI, 1.92 to 6.16; moderate certainty), MIS-ALA (MD, 3.00; 95% CI, 0.43 to 5.59; moderate certainty), MIS-DLA (MD, 3.37; 95% CI, 1.05 to 5.68; moderate certainty), MIS-PA (MD, 4.46; 95% CI, 1.60 to 7.31; moderate certainty), PA (MD, 4.37; 95% CI, 1.87 to 6.88; high certainty), and SuperPath (MD, 5.00; 95% CI, 0.58 to 9.42; high certainty) were associated with greater improvement in hip score compared with DLA. DLA was associated with lower decrease in pain score than SuperPath (MD, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.13 to 2.20; high certainty) and MIS-DLA (MD, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.04 to 1.76; moderate certainty). PA was associated with shorter operation times compared with 2-incision (MD, -23.85 minutes; 95% CI, -36.60 to -11.10 minutes; high certainty), DAA (MD, -13.94 minutes; 95% CI, -18.79 to -9.08 minutes; moderate certainty), DLA (MD, -10.50 minutes; 95% CI, -16.07 to -4.94 minutes; high certainty), MIS-ALA (MD, -6.76 minutes; 95% CI, -12.86 to -0.65 minutes; moderate certainty), and SuperPath (MD, -13.91 minutes; 95% CI, -21.87 to -5.95 minutes; moderate certainty). The incidence of 6 types of complications did not differ significantly between the approaches. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this study, moderate to high certainty evidence indicated that compared with PA, all surgical approaches except DLA were associated with similar improvements of hip score but longer operation time. DLA was associated with smaller improvement of hip score. The safety of the different approaches did not show significant differences. These findings will help health professionals and patients with better clinical decision-making and also provide references for policy makers.

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA Netw Open

Publication Date





Male, Humans, Middle Aged, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip, Network Meta-Analysis, Pain