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Home » News » Anterior Vs. Posterior Hip Replacement: Understanding The Difference

Anterior Vs. Posterior Hip Replacement: Understanding The Difference

April 19, 2022
Happy Patient Recovering In Hospital Bed With Physician And Nurse Looking At Hip Replacement X-Ray

Hip replacement surgery, also referred to as hip arthroplasty, uses artificial implants to replace parts of the hip joint. This surgical procedure can be used to treat patients with conditions such as arthritis or osteoarthritis, which can cause significant joint pain and limit a patient’s ability to function. If a patient is a candidate for hip replacement surgery, their medical team may recommend an anterior hip replacement or a posterior hip replacement.

Types Of Hip Replacement Surgery

Today, many hip replacement surgeries are minimally invasive, regardless of the approach. There are three common ways to surgically access the hip joint:

  • From the front of the patient’s body (anterior approach)
  • From the back of the patient’s body (posterior approach)
  • From the patient’s side (lateral approach

The hip is a ball and socket joint that connects the thigh bone and the hip bone. Depending on the patient’s condition, the surgery may replace the ball, socket, or both with prosthetic implants.

Posterior Hip Replacement

In a posterior approach to hip replacement surgery, the surgeon accesses a patient’s hip joint through the muscles in their buttocks. This is the more traditional approach of the two, and the method that most hip surgeons learn in medical school.

The main advantage of this approach is that it provides a better view of the hip joint, allowing the surgeon to complete the procedure more quickly. The main disadvantage, however, is that it requires the surgeon to cut through muscle, which may make surgical recovery more painful and difficult. This method also carries a higher risk of hip dislocation after surgery.

Another advantage is that most patients are good candidates for posterior hip replacement, regardless of their weight or musculature. Because most surgeons learn this method of hip joint replacement, it is generally used more than an anterior approach, though the anterior approach is growing in popularity.

Anterior Hip Replacement

An anterior approach to hip replacement surgery has several advantages. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that the anterior approach is muscle sparing, meaning the surgeon does not need to cut through muscle tissue to access the hip joint. This can result in less pain and better mobility in the first few weeks after surgery. Patients may rely on a cane or walker for a shorter amount of time because there is no soft tissue damage. Over the long term, however, the recovery processes for anterior and posterior approaches are about the same.

One notable disadvantage of the anterior approach is that the surgery itself takes longer. However, the hospital recovery time may be shorter than a posterior approach surgery. Additionally, patients who are obese or very muscular may not be good fits for this approach. Because the anterior approach is a newer procedure than the posterior approach, it may be more difficult for patients to find surgeons with extensive experience in performing an anterior approach hip replacement surgery.

Preparing For Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement is an inpatient surgery, and most patients will need to stay at the hospital for one or two days after their surgery. A patient may require diagnostic tests, such as blood work or urine analysis, to be cleared for surgery. The entire procedure can take one or more hours depending on the level of complication. A patient may receive general anesthesia for the surgery or a regional anesthetic block administered in their spine.

Patients usually will begin physical therapy within 24 hours after their surgery is complete, starting with light stretches and exercise in the hospital. Once the patient returns home, they will have structured physical therapy, which may take place in their home or at an outpatient physical therapy clinic. This will help to strengthen the muscles around the hip joint, allowing patients to return to activities such as climbing stairs and exercising. Physical therapy may continue for up to one year after surgery. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, many patients’ hip prostheses last for 20 years or more.

Learn More About Hip Surgery From Richmond University Medical Center

At Richmond University Medical Center, an expert team of board-certified surgeons provides shoulder, hand, knee, and hip surgeries for patients with arthritis and other joint conditions, including total hip replacement. Richmond University Medical Center’s orthopedics unit serves patients on Staten Island and in the surrounding area. For more information, contact us today.