What Is Anterior Hip Replacement?

Whether you or a loved one are experiencing hip pain, it’s natural to want to pin down the cause. When you see your doctor, they can run some diagnostic tests to determine the root cause of your pain. If necessary, they may recommend an anterior hip replacement.

But what is an anterior hip replacement, and what does it involve? Learn more about this common surgical procedure with Carda Health.

What Is Hip Replacement Surgery?

Hip replacement surgery, also known as total hip arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure performed to replace a damaged or diseased hip joint with an artificial joint. The surgery aims to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance the quality of life for individuals with severe hip conditions.

The surgery involves removing the damaged portions of the hip joint, including the head of the femur (thighbone) and the socket of the pelvis. These are then replaced with prosthetic components designed to mimic the natural structure and function of the hip joint.

The prosthetic components can be made of various materials, such as metal, plastic, or ceramic, and are selected based on the patient's specific needs and lifestyle.

What Is the Anatomy of the Hip Joint?

The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint located where the head of the femur meets the acetabulum (socket) of the pelvis. It’s surrounded by a complex network of ligaments, tendons, muscles, and cartilage that work together to provide stability, support, and smooth movement.

The ball-shaped head of the femur fits into the cup-shaped socket of the acetabulum, allowing for a wide range of motion, including flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, and rotation. The joint is lined with a layer of smooth cartilage that cushions the bones and enables frictionless movement.

The surrounding muscles, such as the gluteal muscles and the hip flexors, play a crucial role in supporting the hip joint and facilitating movement. Ligaments, including the iliofemoral, pubofemoral, and ischiofemoral ligaments, provide additional stability to the joint.

Why Would Someone Need an Anterior Hip Replacement?

Anterior hip replacement may be recommended for individuals experiencing various hip conditions that cause pain, limited mobility, and reduced quality of life.

Some common conditions that may require anterior hip replacement include the following:


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that commonly affects the hips. Over time, the protective cartilage in the hip joint wears away, leading to bone-on-bone contact, inflammation, and pain.

As the condition progresses, individuals may experience stiffness, difficulty walking or climbing stairs, and reduced range of motion. Anterior hip replacement can provide significant pain relief, restore joint function, and improve mobility for individuals with osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation in the joints, including the hips. The inflammation leads to the destruction of the joint cartilage, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and joint deformity.

In severe cases, hip joint damage can significantly impact a person's ability to perform daily activities. Anterior hip replacement surgery can help alleviate pain, improve joint function, and enhance the overall quality of life for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.

Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis, also known as osteonecrosis, occurs when the blood supply to the bone is disrupted, leading to bone tissue death. This condition can affect the hip joint and cause severe pain, limited mobility, and the risk of joint collapse.

Anterior hip replacement can be an effective treatment option for individuals with avascular necrosis, as it removes the damaged bone and replaces it with an artificial joint, restoring function and reducing pain.

Hip Fractures

Hip fractures are often a result of trauma, such as a fall or a high-impact injury. Fractures can occur in any part of the hip joint, including the femoral neck, the trochanteric region, or the acetabulum. Surgery is often necessary to stabilize the fracture and restore mobility.

In certain cases, anterior hip replacement may be recommended, especially for elderly individuals with displaced or complex fractures. This surgical approach can provide stability, relieve pain, and facilitate early mobilization during the recovery process.

How Can You Prepare for Anterior Hip Replacement?

Preparing for anterior hip replacement involves several essential steps to ensure a successful surgical experience and optimize the recovery process. Here are some key aspects of preparation.

Preoperative Evaluation

Your orthopedic surgeon will conduct a thorough evaluation of your medical history, perform a physical examination, and order necessary tests, such as blood work, imaging studies, and an electrocardiogram (ECG).

This evaluation helps assess your overall health, identify potential risk factors, and determine if you are a suitable candidate for surgery.

Medication Review

It’s crucial to inform your healthcare team about any medications you are taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and supplements.

Some medications, such as blood thinners or anti-inflammatory drugs, may need to be adjusted or temporarily discontinued before the surgery to minimize bleeding risks and optimize the healing process.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Your surgeon may recommend certain lifestyle modifications to enhance your overall health and prepare for the procedure.

This may include maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular exercise, quitting smoking if you are a smoker, and managing any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension.

Preoperative Education

Attending preoperative education sessions can be immensely beneficial in preparing you mentally and physically for the surgery.

These sessions provide detailed information about the procedure, what to expect during the hospital stay, postoperative care instructions, and exercises to perform before and after the surgery to strengthen the hip joint and surrounding muscles.

Home Preparation

Before the surgery, make necessary arrangements at home to ensure a safe and comfortable recovery period. This may involve rearranging furniture to create clear pathways, installing handrails in bathrooms and staircases, and organizing essential items within easy reach.

Support System

Coordinate with family members, friends, or caregivers who can assist you during the recovery phase. Having a reliable support system in place will help with daily activities, transportation to medical appointments, and emotional support throughout the rehabilitation process.

Preoperative Fasting

Your healthcare team will provide specific instructions regarding fasting before the surgery. Typically, you’ll be asked to avoid eating or drinking anything for a certain period before the procedure to reduce the risk of complications during anesthesia.

What Are the Benefits and Risks of Anterior Hip Replacement?

Anterior hip replacement offers several benefits compared to traditional hip replacement techniques.

These benefits typically include:

  • Smaller incision: The anterior approach involves a smaller incision on the front of the hip, typically three to four inches in length. This results in potentially less tissue trauma and a smaller scar.
  • Muscle sparing: The anterior approach allows the surgeon to work between the muscles and tissues rather than cutting through them. This muscle-sparing technique may lead to less postoperative pain, a shorter recovery time, and improved joint stability.
  • Faster recovery: Due to the limited disruption of muscles and tissues, patients who undergo anterior hip replacement may experience a faster recovery compared to other surgical approaches.
  • Reduced dislocation risk: The positioning of the components during surgery and the preservation of important soft tissues contribute to enhanced joint stability and a lower likelihood of postoperative dislocations.
  • Improved range of motion: With the anterior approach, the surgeon can accurately position the hip implant, potentially resulting in an improved range of motion.

Despite its advantages, anterior hip replacement also carries certain risks, which may include:

  • Nerve damage: There is a small risk of nerve damage during the surgery, which can lead to sensory changes or weakness in the thigh or leg. However, with experienced surgeons, this risk is relatively low.
  • Blood vessel injury: In rare cases, blood vessels near the surgical site may be damaged, potentially leading to bleeding or hematoma formation. Prompt recognition and appropriate management by the surgical team can mitigate these risks.
  • Infection: As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection. Strict adherence to sterile techniques during surgery and antibiotic prophylaxis help minimize this risk.
  • Component malposition: Improper positioning of the hip implant components can affect joint function, stability, and overall longevity. Skilled surgeons can help ensure accurate component placement and minimize this risk.
  • Blood clots: Surgery, especially in the lower extremities, can increase the risk of blood clots. Your doctor may recommend various preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of clot formation.

Anterior Hip Replacement vs. Posterior Hip Replacement

Anterior and posterior hip replacements are two commonly performed surgical techniques for hip joint replacement — but they have some important differences and benefits.

Here are some key differences between the two approaches:

  • Incision location: Anterior hip replacement involves a front (anterior) incision along the natural crease of the hip, while posterior hip replacement utilizes a back (posterior) incision along the side of the hip or buttock.
  • Muscle trauma: Anterior hip replacement involves working between muscles rather than detaching or cutting them. In contrast, posterior hip replacement typically requires detaching and subsequently repairing the hip muscles.
  • Stability: Anterior hip replacement is associated with increased stability due to the preservation of important soft tissues. Posterior hip replacement relies on the posterior capsule and external hip rotators for stability.
  • Dislocation risk: Anterior hip replacement has been reported to have a lower risk of dislocation compared to posterior hip replacement. The anterior approach allows for optimal positioning of the implant, minimizing the risk of dislocation during daily activities.
  • Rehabilitation: Anterior hip replacement patients often experience a faster recovery, have fewer postoperative restrictions, and may require less extensive rehabilitation compared to those undergoing posterior hip replacement.

The Bottom Line

Anterior hip replacement surgery offers numerous benefits, including smaller incisions, muscle-sparing techniques, faster recovery, improved stability, and potentially better range of motion. However, it is crucial to carefully weigh the benefits and risks associated with the procedure.

Consulting with an experienced orthopedic surgeon will help determine the most appropriate approach based on your individual condition and goals. Additionally, it’s worth virtual cardiopulmonary rehab Carda Health to assist you during the recovery process.

At Carda Health, we primarily focus on heart and pulmonary rehabilitation, but our commitment to your well-being extends far beyond that. We take a holistic approach to your health, considering all aspects of your well-being and customizing our services to meet your specific needs.

Don't hesitate to explore our comprehensive services to enhance your post-operative experience. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to support you on your wellness journey, ensuring that you receive the comprehensive care and attention you deserve.


Hip Replacement Surgery | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Hip Joint: Anatomy & How It Works | Cleveland Clinic

Osteoarthritis - Symptoms & Causes | Mayo Clinic

Osteonecrosis (Avascular Necrosis) Symptoms & Causes | NIAMS

Hip Fracture Overview | NCBI Bookshelf

Direct Anterior Total Hip Arthroplasty: Comparative Outcomes and Contemporary Results | PMC

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