Total hip replacement replaces damaged parts of the hip with new artificial parts. When a hip replacement is done from the front of the hip, this is called anterior hip replacement.
The posterior approach to hip replacement is the most common type of hip replacement surgery because it is appropriate for almost all patients. The anterior hip replacement is a more technically advanced procedure, and it’s not appropriate for patients who are significantly overweight or who have deformities of the femur or pelvis.
The main difference between posterior vs. anterior hip replacement is the location of the incision for the surgery. Posterior hip replacements are performed via an incision on the back of the hip, in the gluteus maximus muscle. The anterior hip replacement approach goes through the upper thigh. Fewer muscles are cut to perform surgery with the anterior approach, leading to shorter hospital stays and recovery time post-surgery.
Compared to the traditional posterior hip replacement, anterior hip replacement offers several positive benefits to the patient, including:
After undergoing a total hip replacement, whether using the posterior or anterior approach, patients must follow strict precautions for about 12 weeks. These precautions are meant to help the hip joint heal without re-injury during the recovery period. Your orthopedic surgeon at Tennessee Orthopedic Clinics will give you a list of anterior hip replacement precautions to follow after your hip surgery.
The difference between an anterior and posterior hip replacement is where the surgical incision is made on the hip. Different locations change how much you have to cut through muscle, and whether you can simply push between some. For most hip replacements, a parallel surgical incision is made in the skin on the side of the hip needing replacement.
For an anterior hip replacement, a cut is made closer to the front of the hip. The incision doesn’t go through major muscles. The surgeon can typically push the muscles aside instead of cutting them. Unfortunately, this can be challenging for new surgeons, as the visibility is lower than with the posterior method. However, for surgeons experienced in the method, results are often more consistently positive.
For a posterior hip replacement, a curved cut is made closer to the back of the hip. It’s easier to see the femur and the surrounding muscles, which is why many surgeons use it. However, it’s more invasive than the anterior method. Cuts are made through the gluteus maximus and some external hip rotators, which are major muscles. This can take longer to heal. If the hip needs replacing again in the future, which is very common, there will be more scarring. This could lead to more problems and a longer healing time.
It will depend on which surgeon you ask. However, I have done many of both methods. In my personal experience, performing the anterior method leads to fewer complications. Improved patient healing time and results are my ultimate goal, so I aim to use a method that’s best for the patient. Hip replacements are major surgeries, and they should be as easy as possible on the patient.