Total hip replacement and anterior hip replacement are both surgical procedures to counteract the effects of arthritis. Though total hip replacement and anterior hip replacement are both viable options for treating arthritis in the hip joint, the surgical steps of these procedures differ greatly, and can have both short-term and long-term effects on patients.
What is Hip Replacement Surgery?
Hip replacement surgery is a procedure that removes damaged joints in the hip and replaces them with new, artificial parts which mimic the function of the normal hip joint. Hip replacement may be an option for patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteonecrosis for whom:
- Pain persists despite medication.
- Pain worsens with walking, even with the assistance of a cane or walker.
- Pain interferes with sleep.
- Pain makes it difficult to climb stairs or rise from a seated position.
Traditional Total Hip Replacement vs. Anterior Hip Replacement
Total hip replacements differ from one another mainly in the location of the incisions used to perform the surgery. Traditional total hip replacements are performed posteriorly, meaning the surgeon uses a curved incision on the side and back of the hip. Through this method, surgeons must cut through several muscles and soft tissue, including:
- The tensor fascia lata: a fibrous soft tissue that stabilizes the hip and knee.
- The large gluteus maximus muscle: a muscle that allows a person to extend and rotate the thigh which also stabilizes the pelvis.
- The external rotators of the hip: small muscles that provide hip stability.
Though the traditional posterior hip replacement requires the cutting of these tissues, this helps to provide the surgeon with a better view of the hip joint, and increased ease of surgical completion.
An alternative to the traditional total hip replacement is anterior hip replacement. As the name suggests, this method uses a primary incision at the front of the hip, typically at the top of the pelvic bone which extends vertically to the top of the thigh. Unlike posterior hip replacement, which requires the cutting of several muscles, anterior hip replacement requires a surgeon to work between the muscles to get to the hip joint. While this means that there is limited muscle cutting and possible reduction in recovery time, this makes the anterior hip replacement surgery more technically challenging, as the surgeon has a more limited view of the joint.
Though traditional and anterior hip replacement surgery both have their benefits, you should talk to your orthopedist to determine which surgical strategy is best for you. You and your doctor will assess different factors, including ease of surgery, recovery time and personal preferences to determine the best option for you.
Great Lakes Orthopaedics
If you’re seeking treatment for hip pain, you can find support with Great Lakes Orthopaedics. Reach out today to learn more about our highly specialized orthopaedic treatments and get back to living your best active life.
The information in this article is provided for general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional consultation with a healthcare provider familiar with your medical background and history.