Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement Surgery

If your hip has been damaged by arthritis, a fracture, or other conditions, common activities such as walking or getting in and out of a chair may be painful and difficult. Your hip may be stiff and it may be hard to put on your shoes and socks. You may even feel uncomfortable while resting.

The hip is one of the body’s largest weight-bearing joints. By replacing your hip joint with an artificial joint, hip replacement surgery can relieve your pain, increase motion and help you get back to enjoying life. Many people suffering with arthritis, hip pain, stiffness and limited hip movement can now choose minimally invasive surgery for hip replacement with the anterior approach technique.

The anterior approach to hip replacement surgery is a popular alternative to traditional hip replacement surgery. It potentially provides less pain, faster recovery and improved mobility. Unlike traditional hip replacement surgery, this technique allows the surgeon to work between the muscles and tissue without detaching them from either the hip or thighbone. This may help you avoid pain from sitting on the incision site, and reduce the restrictions on activity during recovery.

Keeping the muscles intact during surgery may also help to prevent dislocations of the new hip joint later on. With the anterior approach, the surgeon uses one small incision on the front (anterior) of your hip as opposed to the side or back (posterior). Since the incision is in front, you avoid the pain of sitting on the incision site.

The anterior approach differs in multiple ways from other surgery techniques:

  • The hip is exposed in a way that does not detach muscles or tendons from the bone. 
  • A high-tech operating table is often used to help improve access to x-ray or computer navigation tools typically used during surgery to confirm implant position and leg length. 
  • The anterior approach enters the body closer to the hip joint, with far less tissue between the skin and the bones of the hip, so more people may be candidates, although not everyone is.

The anterior approach procedure for total hip replacement provides many potential benefits:

  • Generally a faster recovery time. 
  • Potentially fewer restrictions during recovery. Although each person responds to this procedure differently, it seeks to help you more freely bend your hip and bear full weight immediately or soon after surgery.
  • Possibility of reduced scarring because the technique allows for one relatively small incision. 
  • Potential for stability of the new joint sooner after the surgery, likely resulting from the fact that the key muscles and tissues are not disturbed during the operation.

An orthopedic surgeon can determine whether or not a patient is an ideal candidate for this type of hip replacement surgery. Every surgical approach has risks and benefits. The way a hip replacement will work out depends on a person’s age, weight, activity level and other factors. For more information, visit FortHealthCare.com/Joint.

Thomas Nordland, MD

About Thomas Nordland, MD

Education
Northwestern University, Chicago

Residency
Northwestern University Affiliated Hospitals, Chicago

Board Certification
American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
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