Should You Have Your Hip Replacement Performed Though An Anterior Incision?

For many years, hip replacement procedures were performed through a posterior incision — an incision made along the back of the hip and thigh. In recent years, though, it has become more common for patients to have their hip replacement performed through an anterior incision — an incision along the front of the leg and hip. This approach tends to work better for many patients, but there are still some downsides to consider and talk about with your surgeon, too. 

The advantages of an anterior hip replacement

1. Smaller muscles are cut through

If you think about your backside and the front of your leg, you'll realize there's more muscle on your backside. This means more muscle needs to be cut through to perform a hip replacement through a posterior incision than an anterior one. Since there's less muscle damage with an anterior hip replacement, patients heal faster. They also tend to have less muscular pain after surgery.

2. You can resume activities sooner

Because there is less muscle damage and your muscles heal faster, you will be able to get up and move around sooner after an anterior hip replacement when compared to a posterior one. This means you'll lose less physical fitness in the recovery period. It also means a lower risk of blood clots, which tend to be an issue when patients are immobile after surgery. You'll be able to walk sooner, bend over further, and use the toilet independently sooner with an anterior hip replacement.

The disadvantages of an anterior hip replacement

1. The procedure may be hard to perform on overweight patients

If you are overweight and carry a lot of excess fat in your abdomen and along the front of your hips, an anterior hip replacement may be more difficult for your surgeon to perform. The surgery may take longer as a result. Longer surgeries come with an increased risk of side effects.

2. Not all surgeons offer it

Since anterior hip replacement has only become more common recently, not all orthopedic surgeons offer this procedure. If you decide you really want this procedure, you may need to shop around to a few different surgeons and hospitals to find someone who offers it.

If you can find a surgeon who performs it, and you do not carry significant excess weight on your front side, an anterior hip replacement procedure tends to be preferable for speedier healing