What to Expect With Anterior Total Hip Replacement

Until recently, hip replacements were always performed using a posterior approach in which entry is made through the rear of the hip. Orthopedic surgeons now utilize the anterior approach which is made through the front of the hip. This approach has gained popularity as an effective alternative. hip replacement

Estimates indicate that approximately 20 percent of hip surgeons are performing anterior hip replacements as opposed to a mere handful in 2005. If your surgeon is recommending anterior hip replacement, here is an overview of what you can expect.

Difference between posterior and anterior approaches

For a posterior approach, the patient lies on his side and a six to eight inch incision is made from the buttocks to the outside of the hip. In contrast, the patient is on his back during the anterior approach, which requires only a four-inch incision just below the groin.

The surgeon performing a posterior approach must then split the gluteus maximus and detach other muscles at the back of the hip to reach the hip socket. By contrast, with an anterior approach the hip socket is accessed through a natural space between muscles, requiring no cutting.

Actual joint replacement

At this point, anterior hip replacement proceeds the same way as the posterior approach. The ball portion of the femur is removed and replaced with a metal stern and ball, while the cup portion, or acetabulum, is resurfaced and fitted with a new metal cup. All that remains is closing the incision, as opposed to the posterior approach in which cut and detached muscles must be repaired.


Since the muscles incur minimal trauma during anterior hip replacement, recovery is quicker and normal movements are not restricted. The procedure also reduces the chances of hip dislocation since no muscles have been detached and reattached.

Our surgeons stay current with all state-of-the-art orthopedic procedures. Contact Specialty Orthopaedic Surgery for answers to your questions about hip replacement surgery.

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