Skip to content

Benefits of anterior hip replacement surgery

By Orthopaedics SA
Dr Darren Waters - Orthopaedics SA

Hip replacement surgery is one of the most successful surgical procedures of all time[1]. It is effective in alleviating pain caused by arthritis, injuries, and many other hip conditions.

The anterior approach to hip replacement is less invasive than posterior and lateral hip replacements, and several surgeons at Orthopaedics SA offer the approach from hospitals across Adelaide.

Also called a minimally invasive hip replacement, this approach offers a range of benefits that can make it a great alternative to a traditional hip replacement.

Anterior vs posterior hip replacement: what’s the difference?
‘Anterior’ means that the surgeon accesses the hip bone from the front of the hip, rather than the side (lateral) or back (posterior) of the hip.

Because of the way the hip’s muscles are positioned, accessing the bone from the front means the surgeon does not need to cut through any major muscles or detach them from the bone. Instead, they can work between the muscles while they replace the joint.

This means there is less muscle and soft tissue damage, which may lead to a faster recovery and improved outcomes after surgery. Some people also believe this helps stabilise the hip and decreases the risk of dislocation while in recovery.

Is anterior hip replacement better than regular hip replacement?
Anterior hip replacement isn’t necessarily better or worse than a lateral or posterior hip replacement. All approaches have their benefits and fallbacks.

Current evidence shows that patients who have direct anterior hip replacements have shorter hospital stays and faster recovery in the early post-operative stages. However, there is not enough evidence to show that the anterior approach has better long-term results than lateral or posterior approaches[2].

As a result, anterior hip replacement may be better than lateral or posterior hip replacements for some people, particularly if you are concerned about the appearance of scars or need to return to (sedentary) work as soon as possible.

Who is eligible for anterior hip replacement?
You may be eligible for an anterior hip replacement if:

·       Your hip pain affects your day-to-day life

·       Your symptoms are not alleviated by nonsurgical treatments

·       You are relatively healthy overall aside from your hip pain

However, the approach is not suitable for everyone and not all orthopaedic surgeons perform anterior hip replacement. If you believe you are suitable but have not been offered anterior hip replacement as an option, you may request a referral to an Orthopaedics SA surgeon who specialises in the area.

You also may not be eligible if you:

·       Use nicotine products (including tobacco and vape products) – Nicotine increases your risk for complications during and after surgery, making an anterior hip replacement more dangerous.

·       Have severe osteoporosis – If your bone density is too low, your hip may not support the new joint.

·       Are very muscular or overweight – anterior hip replacement is performed through a smaller incision and the shape or size of the patient may not make it feasible.

·       Have significant medical conditions which could affect your recovery – including a high fall risk or some psychiatric disorders.

What are the benefits of anterior hip replacement?
Studies have shown that anterior hip replacement is associated with significantly shorter hospital stays, greater functional rehabilitation, and lower levels of pain in the early recovery period[3].

Reported benefits of anterior approach hip replacement include:

·       Smaller surgical incision and resulting scar

·       Fewer precautions after surgery

·       Less risk of hip dislocation

·       Lower risk of different leg lengths after the surgery

·       Less pain in early recovery

However, it is important to know that some studies have shown little to no difference between the anterior approach and other methods in these areas. As a result, consulting with your surgeon is important to determine the best hip replacement option for you.

Is anterior hip replacement safe?
The first anterior hip replacement was performed in 1947, and the technique has been heavily practiced and researched by orthopaedic surgeons in Australia and around the world. It is considered very safe and effective when performed correctly, with more than 10,000 anterior hip replacements performed in Australia annually.

Is anterior hip replacement right for me?
While anterior hip replacement has a host of benefits, it may not be the right approach for everyone.

When you book a consultation with an Orthopaedics SA surgeon, they will review your test results and personal medical history to determine if the anterior approach is right for you. Your surgeon will then explain all your treatment options and help you reach an informed decision about what is best for your health.

[1] OrtoInfo.aaos, n.d.
[2] Yue et al, 2015
[3] Yue et al, 2015