All hip replacement surgeries remove the damaged hip joint and replace it with prosthetic components in order to:
- Decrease hip pain
- Improve hip function
But hip replacements can differ in their surgical approaches. “Surgical approach” refers to how a surgeon accesses the surgical site, including the location of the incision and which muscles and other soft tissue must be cut or pushed aside to make room for the surgical procedure.
With the anterior approach, the hip joint is accessed from the front of the hip (the word anterior means “front”) rather than from the side or back of the hip. The most commonly used hip replacement approach is from the back of the hip, called the posterior approach.
- See Hip Anatomy
This article explains how anterior hip replacement surgeries are different from more traditional hip replacements and the advantages and limitations of anterior hip replacements.
In recent years, some surgeons have expressed a preference for the anterior approach over more traditional surgical approaches because they believe patients:
- Have an easier and accelerated post-surgical recovery
- Get long-term results that are equal or better than more traditional hip replacement surgeries
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Whether or not anterior hip replacement offers better results compared to other surgical approaches is the subject of ongoing research. To date, experts have found that anterior hip replacements provide promising results, but not all surgeons are trained in the procedure and not all patients are appropriate candidates for the surgery.
Surgeons Should Have Special Expertise and Training
The anterior approach can be challenging for a surgeon, especially in the early phase of a surgeon’s training. Therefore, it is preferable for a surgeon to have undergone special training before he or she performs anterior hip replacement. Studies indicate that a surgeon’s first 20 to 30 anterior hip replacement surgeries typically have a higher complication rate than the surgeries that follow.1,2 Therefore, it is generally advisable for patients to seek out a surgeon who is experienced with an anterior approach.