Anterior hip replacement is a minimally-invasive approach to total hip replacement that is performed from the front of the hip. The surgeons at OIH are experts in anterior hip replacement and have performed over 1,000 procedures over the last 8 years. Traditionally, total hip replacements are performed by entering the hip from the side (lateral) or back (posterior). However, entering the hip from the front has many advantages, including:
- Smaller surgical incision
- Reduced muscle trauma
- Less postoperative pain
- Less limping
- Shorter hospital stay
- Faster recovery
- Decreased risk of hip dislocations
Did You Know?
Since anterior hip replacements reduce muscle trauma associated with total hip replacements, they are sometimes known as “muscle sparing hip arthroplasties”.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Am I a candidate for anterior hip replacement?
You may be a candidate for anterior hip replacement if you have a hip that has been damaged by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fracture, osteomyelitis, tumor, loss of blood supply, or an abnormal growth. Anterior hip replacements are often used to treat hips affected with arthritis or hips that have already been replaced. However, certain hip positions or medical conditions may increase the risk of complications with an anterior hip replacement. In these cases, an alternative approach is usually recommended. To determine if an anterior hip replacement is right for you, schedule a consultation with our experienced anterior hip replacement specialists.
How does an anterior hip replacement vary from a traditional hip replacement?
While both types of hip replacements remove and replace the ball and socket joint of the hip, anterior hip replacements have a few key differences from traditional hip replacements. Here are some of the key differences between the two procedures:
- Entry Point: as mentioned before, anterior hip replacement begins with an incision made in the front of the hip that is usually around 4-5 inches long. With traditional hip replacements, this incision is made on the back of the hip, along the outer buttocks or along the side. These incisions are usually about 10-12 inches long.
- Affect on the Muscles: although only the joint is being replaced, both methods must pass through the muscles to reach the joint. Since there are fewer muscles on the front of the hip, an anterior approach allows surgeons to move the muscles to perform the hip replacement. Conversely, there are more muscles towards the back of the hip. This means that when using a posterior or sideways approach, these muscles must be cut in order to reach the joint and perform the replacement.
- Hospital Stay: most anterior hip replacements are performed as outpatient procedures, however some may require a short hospital stay of 1-2 days. Traditional hip replacements, on the other hand, average a 3-10 day hospital stay.
- Recovery Time: people tend to recover much faster from anterior hip replacement due to the fact that their muscles were not damaged during the procedure. On average, recovery for anterior hip replacement takes about 4-6 weeks. The recovery period for traditional hip replacements is much longer since both the muscles and joint need to heal. On average, recovery from a traditional hip replacement takes about 2-4 months.
- Postoperative Precautions: after an anterior hip replacement, there are far less precautions to follow. However, since traditional hip replacements have a higher risk of hip dislocation, there are a list of precautions that must be followed for the first 12 weeks after surgery.
What can I expect during an anterior hip replacement?
Most anterior hip replacements are performed as outpatient procedures. Once you have been anesthetized, your surgeon will prepare the surgical area by sterilizing the front of your hip and covering it with sterile drapes. Then, an incision is made in the front of your hip. Muscle and other tissue will be moved until your hip joint is visible. The upper part of your thigh that makes up the “ball” of the joint and the damaged bone and cartilage in the pelvic bone that make up the “socket” of the joint will all be removed and replaced with an artificial ball and socket. After making sure your legs are the same length, your surgeon will then finish by closing the incision.
What can I expect when recovering from an anterior hip replacement?
Immediately after surgery, you will spend about an hour or two in recovery. Most patients will then be discharged, however there are some cases where you may spend a night at the hospital. By the day after surgery, you should be able to put weight on your new hip and walk with crutches or a walker. To help you recover, you will need to undergo physical therapy to strengthen the hip and regain proper range of motion. Our surgeons will also provide you with specific instructions on what activities to avoid while you recover from an anterior hip replacement. For a successful recovery, it is important that you follow these instructions and keep all follow up appointments.
About a week after surgery, you will have any external stitches or staples removed. In most cases, you can expect recovery to take about 4-6 weeks before you are able to return to the way things were before surgery. Until that point, it is recommended to have someone around to help you with daily activities. You will usually be able to return to work after a month, however if your job requires you to stand, walk, or lift heavy objects, it may be closer to three months.