Anterior Approach Total Hip Replacement

Severe pain in the hip can be a result of wear and tear on the joint and may result in loss of strength and mobility. As the pain and discomfort increases, your doctor at South Florida Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine may recommend a total hip replacement using the anterior approach.

The traditional posterior approach, while an effective option, results in a longer hospital stay and recovery time. An anterior approach total hip replacement (where your surgeon accesses the hip through an incision in the front of the body, minimizing muscle and tissue damage) can cause less pain and help decrease your recovery time, thus making it the recommended option for total hip replacement when available.

A majority of patients experience a vast improvement in mobility and pain relief following a hip replacement.

What is an Anterior Approach Total Hip Replacement?

During a total hip replacement, the damaged ball and socket in the hip bone are removed and replaced with new prosthetic hardware. This procedure is typically recommended for patients who have experienced trauma to their hip or suffer from arthritis. During an anterior approach total hip replacement, your surgeon will make an incision on the front (anterior) of the body as opposed to the traditional posterior (back) approach. By making an anterior incision, patients experience faster recovery and less downtime as the surgeon is able to minimize cutting specific muscles and tissues.

Recovery and rehabilitation time can typically be reduced by several weeks using the anterior approach total hip replacement technique.

Hip replacement is recommended if you are experiencing:

  • Hip stiffness limiting leg movement
  • Consistent hip pain, even when resting
  • Unsuccessful nonsurgical treatments for pain relief such as anti-inflammatory medication or physical therapy
  • Hip pain that limits everyday activities
  • Difficulty standing from a seated position
  • Inability to walk up or down stairs

Differences Between an Anterior and Posterior Approach Total Hip Replacement

While the incision for a traditional posterior approach to total hip replacement is in the back of the hip, the anterior approach makes an incision in front of the hip. By making an incision in the front of the hip, your surgeon is able to eliminate the need to cut muscle and tissue. This method allows for a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery.

Additional benefits of an anterior total hip replacement surgery include:

  • A smaller incision scar (almost half the size from the posterior approach)
  • Reduced risk of future dislocation
  • A shorter hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery time
  • No limp following surgery (the buttocks muscles are not damaged with an anterior approach)
  • Fewer activity restrictions as compared to a posterior total hip replacement

Who is a Candidate for an Anterior Approach Hip Replacement?

Your surgeon will evaluate your condition and recommend a total hip replacement based on pain and disability, not age. While most patients are age 50 to 80, South Florida Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is able to perform a total hip replacement successfully on patients of virtually anyone over the age of 18.

Patients benefitting from a total hip replacement often experience:

  • Hip pain limiting normal activities
  • Hip stiffness that restricts leg movement
  • Pain in the hip, even when resting
  • Unsuccessful conservative treatments including anti-inflammatory medication or physical therapy

What to Expect After Anterior Approach Total Hip Replacement

Following surgery, you will spend one or two days recovering in the hospital. A physical therapist will begin helping you sit up and begin walking soon after surgery.

Physical therapy will continue for several weeks to improve strength, mobility and adaptation to the new hip joint. A walker or cane will be needed to begin walking, standing, and applying weight to the new hip.

It is likely that you will be able to resume most normal, light activity in two to three weeks following surgery and make a full recovery in two to four months. The pain previously experienced with a damaged hip will be eliminated and mobility will be improved through physical therapy in most cases.

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