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.
Anterior Hip Replacement Method
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.
Posterior Hip Replacement Method
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.
Which method is better?
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.