Hip replacements have been done for many years, and they continue to get more advanced and successful. While many people have heard of hip replacements, it isn’t as common to know that there are several different forms of hip replacement. There are different implants available as well depending on the severity of the degeneration or issues within the hip itself. When a patient needs a hip replacement, there are several ways to determine what surgery might benefit them the most. While less common, an anterior hip replacement is a great surgery that can truly change a patient’s life for the better.
What is a Hip Replacement?
A hip replacement surgery is generally the last option for most patients to resolve hip issues and pain. There are many other options to help treat hip problems like steroid injections, physical therapy, medications, and more. Once these avenues have been exhausted, a doctor may recommend hip replacement. In this surgery, part or all of the hip joint is removed and a prosthetic implant is placed, depending on the status of the patient’s overall health and the condition of their hip. Some of the options available include hip resurfacing, partial hip replacement, and total hip replacement. However, these surgeries can all be done either from the front of the hip (anterior) or the back of the hip (posterior).
Anterior Hip Replacement
An anterior hip replacement is when a hip replacement surgery is done through an incision made on the front of the hip. This is a less common surgery, partially due to its difficulty. It takes a very experienced surgeon and team to be able to do a successful anterior hip replacement. The incision over the front of the hip still allows access to the area, but the manipulation of the bones and tissues can be difficult. However, the first few weeks of healing tend to be better and there are less restrictions after the surgery than there are for patients with posterior hip replacement.
Benefits and Disadvantages
Anterior hip replacement has seemed to be better for female patients, but it is also not an ideal surgery for overweight patients or people who cannot handle long surgeries. It is a much longer surgery than posterior hip replacement. Some patients also report a numbness of the area of the surgery that lasts for a few weeks up to a few months. This surgery is safe and is very much an option for most patients.
Similarities between Anterior and Posterior Hip Replacement
Most sources show that there is not much of a difference in statistical evidence for anterior or posterior hip replacement. The recoveries for each surgery are about the same, about 6 weeks. They also have similar rates of complications. One important complication is hip dislocations after surgery, and the rate seems to be pretty similar. Both of these surgeries can be done in a way that avoids major muscles and keeps many of the essential weight-bearing muscles intact. They are very similar surgeries except for the exact place where the incision is made.
The procedure for this kind of hip replacement requires a well-trained doctor and team. It starts with an incision over the hip bone from the front of the body. This incision can be as small as 3-4 inches in this surgery. The muscles and tendons are carefully maneuvered aside to reveal the hip joint. They can then rotate the head of the femur out of the incision site so they can remove it, attach prosthetics, or replace it entirely. The socket is also visible through the incision site for attachment of prosthetic cups or for removal of excess bone or other pieces of tissue. Once the replacement is completed, the surgeon moves the muscles and tissues back into place, then closes the incision site with sutures or staples.
Anterior Hip Replacement Recovery
One of the main differences in anterior hip replacement is the recovery. The first few weeks of this recovery tend to be easier than those who receive the posterior hip replacement surgery. With a posterior incision site, patients have to be more careful when sitting down, especially when doing things like sitting in a car, for the first few weeks. For an anterior approach there are less restrictions, which means that the patient has more freedom and ability from the beginning. This also means that they may need walking aids for a shorter period of time. However, the long-term effects of both surgeries are the same, and both forms of hip replacements can lead the patient to a happier, healthier life with minimal hip pain.