Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement
The first anterior approach to hip replacement surgery was performed more than 50 years ago, but advanced equipment, techniques and training have only recently made it a popular option with surgeons. At Wake Forest Baptist Health, our highly specialized orthopaedic team is skilled in the latest minimally invasive techniques that make this surgery a safe and effective treatment option.
Anterior vs. Posterior Approach to Hip Replacement
In the anterior approach to hip replacement, your surgeon accesses the hip joint by entering through the front of the body and going between the hip muscles that help hold the hip joint in place. Smaller incisions are possible with this procedure versus traditional hip surgery.
Traditional hip replacement surgery utilizes the posterior approach. It requires an incision of 8 to 10 inches beside or behind the hip joint, close to the buttocks. The surgeon must go through muscle and detach the muscles from the “ball and socket” of the hip joint.
No matter the approach, both surgeries involve replacing the joint’s cartilage and bone with similar implants. During both procedures, the surgeon will create a new hip joint that moves smoothly with the following steps:
Smooth out the hip socket and removes cartilage and any debris, such as damage to the bone from osteoarthritis
- Secure a cup-shaped implant into the socket
- Trim away the ball at the top of the leg bone and secure a metal stem inside the leg
- Place a metal or ceramic ball at the top of the stem and a smooth, sturdy plastic, metal or ceramic piece inside the cup-shaped implant
Learn more about the posterior approach and total hip replacement.
Benefits of the Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement
The anterior approach to hip replacement is a minimally invasive surgical technique. It requires only small incisions and allows the surgeon to work between the muscles rather than cutting them. Advantages include:
- Less pain
- Shorter hospital stay
- Quicker recovery and rehabilitation
- More joint stability
- Reduced chance of hip dislocation, one of the risks of hip replacement surgery
Most patients who undergo the anterior approach to hip replacement are able to bear full weight soon after surgery and return quickly to daily activities.
Am I a Candidate for the Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement Surgery?
This less invasive surgery is especially appropriate for patients who are active and eager to return to work and their daily activities as quickly as possible.
Not all hip replacement patients are eligible for this type of surgery. Your doctor will evaluate whether the anterior approach is right for you. Factors may include:
- Patient’s history
- A thorough examination
- Imaging studies such as X-rays or MRIs