Anterior Hip Replacement: What You Need to Know

Types of Cardiovascular Surgery


Hip replacement surgery, or hip arthroplasty, is a life-changing surgical procedure for individuals suffering from hip pain and mobility issues. The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons predicts annual hip replacements may reach 500,000 by 2030. Yet, only 15-20% use the anterior approach.

Among the surgical approaches, the anterior hip replacement technique has been recognized for its potential benefits over traditional hip replacement surgery, including the posterior approach and lateral approach.

Anatomy of the Hip

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, comprising the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum (part of the pelvis). Cartilage covers both bones to allow smooth movement. However, conditions like hip arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can degrade this cartilage, leading to the need for joint replacement.

Why Anterior Hip Replacement?

The adoption of the anterior approach among surgeons has seen a noteworthy increase, as evidenced by the latest survey from the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons conducted in November 2016. It revealed that 34% of surgeons surveyed were utilizing the Anterior Approach for hip surgeries. 

Timely Medical specializes in the anterior surgical approach to hip replacement. This method involves accessing the hip joint from the front, preserving the natural interval between muscles, which contrasts with the muscle trauma associated with the posterior and lateral approaches used in traditional hip replacement surgery.

Benefits of Anterior Hip Replacement

Over the past ten years, there has been a significant shift in surgical preferences, with the number of surgeons opting for the anterior approach to hip replacement surgery increasing markedly. Initially, around ten years ago, only about 5% of surgeons employed this technique. However, recent statistics show that this figure has surged to approximately 40%. This substantial increase reflects growing confidence in the anterior approach’s benefits, including potentially reduced recovery times and less muscle trauma, leading to its broader acceptance and application in the medical community.

Timely Medical’s expertise in this less invasive surgery offers numerous benefits:

  • Reduced Muscle Damage: The anterior approach causes less soft tissue trauma by avoiding major muscles, resulting in less postoperative pain.
  • Faster Recovery: Patients often experience a quicker recovery, returning to normal function weeks after surgery.
  • Improved Mobility: This approach allows for a natural restoration of muscle fibers, enhancing movement after surgery.
  • Decreased Risk of Dislocation: There is a lower risk of dislocation compared to the posterior approach due to the preservation of soft tissues.
  • Better Surgical Accuracy: The special operating table used during the procedure improves component positioning of the femoral stems and acetabular components.
  • Less Post-Operative Restrictions: With reduced muscle and soft tissue trauma, patients face fewer limitations during their recovery.
  • Potential for a Smaller Scar: The skin incision made in the anterior approach is typically smaller than the lateral or posterior incision.

With Timely Medical’s advanced techniques, a high percentage of patients report rapid recovery and return to their daily activities with reduced pain after surgery.

Preparing for Surgery

Preparation for this less invasive surgery involves several steps to ensure safety and the best outcomes. This includes medical evaluations for detecting thigh bone issues or leg length discrepancy, lifestyle modifications for obese patients, and mental preparations to manage expectations for the day of surgery and weeks after surgery.

Medical Evaluation and Tests

A comprehensive assessment before the day of surgery includes blood tests and imaging to review hip arthritis severity and femoral fracture risks. Effective preoperative planning aims to reduce surgical time and improve the accuracy of femoral and acetabular component placement.

Lifestyle and Home Preparations

Adjustments at home should be made to aid recovery, facilitating movement after surgery with less risk of dislocation. Diet and lifestyle changes, particularly for obese patients, are important for reducing complication rates and enhancing the healing process.

Mental Preparations

Understanding the surgical procedure, from the time of surgery to the weeks following, helps alleviate anxiety. Patients are educated on pain medications and the importance of rehabilitation for a rapid recovery.

Steps of Anterior Hip Replacement Surgery

Steps of Anterior Hip Replacement Surgery

The procedure on the day of anterior hip replacement surgery involves the following steps:

  1. Anesthesia: Ensuring the patient is comfortable and pain-free.
  2. Incision: Making a frontal skin incision, avoiding the larger lateral incision or posterior incision associated with traditional approaches.
  3. Joint Replacement: Removing damaged components and replacing them with artificial parts, ensuring proper component positioning to minimize the risk of dislocation.
  4. Closure: The incision is sutured, preparing the patient for a quicker recovery thanks to the minimally invasive nature of the surgery.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Immediate Postoperative Care

The anterior hip replacement recovery week-by-week plan starts from the day after surgery, focusing on restoring normal function and reducing the need for narcotic medication. The medical field emphasizes early mobilization to reduce the risk of blood clots and encourage a rapid recovery, aligning with the typical anterior hip replacement recovery time.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Process

Customized programs, integral to the anterior hip replacement recovery time, begin within days after surgery, targeting muscle strength and joint function. These are crucial for patients with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or severe hip arthritis, ensuring a gradual yet consistent recovery pace.

Emotional Support During Recovery

Support is provided to manage postoperative pain and adapt to new movements after surgery, ensuring patients do not experience undue stress or discomfort during their recovery period.

Risks and Complications

While anterior hip replacement is generally considered safe, it’s not without risks and complications, similar to any surgical procedure. The occurrence rates for issues such as infection, blood clots, and nerve damage are comparable to, if not slightly lower than, those associated with traditional hip replacement methods like the posterior or lateral approaches.

Studies indicate that while the anterior approach may offer faster recovery times and reduced pain, the rates of complications such as dislocation and fractures do not significantly differ from other methods. Understanding these helps patients and surgeons weigh the benefits against potential risks when choosing the appropriate surgical approach for hip replacement.

Common Surgical Risks

  1. Infection: Infections can occur at the incision site or in the joint space of the hip, which can be a serious complication. It is important to monitor for signs of infection, such as increasing redness, swelling, or fever, and to follow your surgeon’s instructions for preventing infection.
  2. Blood Clots: Blood clots can form in the legs or lungs after surgery, which can be a life-threatening complication. Patients may be given blood thinners to help prevent blood clots from forming.
  3. Nerve Damage: Nerve damage can occur during surgery, leading to numbness, weakness, or pain in the hip or leg. While this risk is low, it is important to discuss any concerns with your surgeon.
  4. Fractures: Fractures of the thigh bone or changes in the implant position can occur during or after surgery, which may require additional treatment or prolong the recovery process.
  5. Implant Problems: There is a risk of the artificial joint wearing out over time, dislocation, or discomfort due to differences in leg lengths. Proper placement of the implants is crucial to minimize these risks.
  6. Leg Length Inequality: After surgery, there may be a slight difference in leg lengths, which can lead to issues with gait or alignment. Surgeons use various techniques to ensure the legs are as equal as possible.
  7. Hip Dislocation: Dislocation of the hip joint can occur if the implants are not properly positioned or if the surrounding tissues are disturbed during surgery. This risk can be minimized by using techniques that preserve the tissues around the hip joint.
  8. Anesthetic Risks: Like any surgery, there are risks associated with anesthesia, including allergic reactions, complications with breathing or heart function, and adverse reactions to medications.
  9. Hematoma: A collection of blood outside of blood vessels, known as a hematoma, can occur at the surgical site. While most hematomas resolve on their own, some may require drainage or additional treatment.
  10. Wound Healing Problems: Some patients may experience delayed wound healing, infection, or other issues with the surgical incision. It is important to follow post-operative care instructions to promote proper healing.

Overall, the majority of patients do not experience complications following hip replacement surgery. However, it is essential to understand and discuss these potential risks with your surgeon before undergoing the procedure.

Preventative Measures

Steps of Anterior Hip Replacement Surgery

Your doctor adopts extensive pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative strategies to enhance outcomes and ensure the longevity of hip replacements. This includes lifestyle modifications before the day of surgery, meticulous surgical techniques in the operating room, and post-operative rehabilitation to prevent hip dislocation and manage pain after surgery effectively.

Pre-operative Measures

Physical Evaluation and Optimization:

Before undergoing total hip arthroplasty, patients need to undergo a thorough physical evaluation to assess their overall health and fitness for surgery. This evaluation may include assessing cardiovascular health, respiratory function, mobility, and muscle strength. Patients may also be advised to participate in pre-operative physical therapy to improve their strength and range of motion before surgery.

Medication Management:

Patients need to discuss their current medications with their healthcare provider before surgery. Certain medications, such as blood thinners, may need to be adjusted or temporarily stopped before the procedure to reduce the risk of bleeding complications. Patients should also inform their healthcare provider of any allergies or sensitivities to medications to ensure a safe surgical experience.

Lifestyle Modifications:

In the weeks leading up to surgery, patients may be advised to make lifestyle modifications to optimize their health and recovery. This may include quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and staying active. These lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of complications during surgery and improve post-operative outcomes.

Physical Preparation:

In addition to physical therapy, patients may also be instructed to perform specific exercises or stretches to prepare their body for surgery. Strengthening the muscles around the hip joint and improving flexibility can help facilitate a smoother recovery and rehabilitation process. Patients should follow the guidance of their healthcare provider or physical therapist when engaging in pre-operative physical preparation.

Nutritional Optimization:

Nutrition plays a crucial role in the healing process, so patients may be advised to focus on optimizing their diet before surgery. Adequate intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals can support tissue repair and immune function. Patients may also be encouraged to stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet to promote health and well-being.

Intra-operative Measures

During the anterior hip replacement procedure, the surgical team employs advanced techniques to minimize tissue disruption and preserve muscle integrity. The anterior approach allows surgeons to access the hip joint without detaching muscles, leading to potentially faster recovery and improved stability.

Infection control protocols are rigorously followed to reduce the risk of post-operative complications. Additionally, the medical team monitors and manages blood loss during the procedure to maintain stable blood volume and optimize patient safety. These measures contribute to the overall success and effectiveness of anterior hip replacement surgery.

Post-operative Measures

After anterior hip replacement, mobilization is a key focus to aid in the restoration of mobility and function. Patients will receive personalized pain management strategies to ensure comfort during recovery. Wound care protocols are implemented to minimize the risk of infection and promote healing. Physical therapy follow-up plans are established to guide patients through rehabilitation and strengthen the hip joint.

Additionally, measures to prevent blood clots are put in place, such as medication or compression stockings. Lifestyle adjustments may include specific recommendations for activities and movement to support overall hip health and longevity.

Life After Anterior Hip Replacement

Patients typically enjoy an improved quality of life, with many returning to activities they love within weeks after surgery, thanks to the reduced muscle trauma and quicker recovery associated with the anterior approach.

Right Surgeon and Hospital? Visit Timely Medical for your Hip Replacement Surgery

Choosing Timely Medical, a leading private orthopedic clinic in Toronto, means opting for experienced surgeons who use state-of-the-art methods for joint replacement, including the anterior approach for hip arthroplasty. We ensure a safe, effective surgical procedure and a path to rapid recovery and restored function, embodying the excellence of private hip replacement in Canada.


Anterior hip replacement offers a beneficial alternative to traditional hip replacement surgery, especially for patients concerned about surgical time, postoperative pain, and recovery duration. With the right preparation and care, patients can look forward to significant improvements in mobility and quality of life.


What is the success rate of anterior hip replacement?

The success rate is high, with the majority of hip replacement patients experiencing relief from hip pain and improved function.

Can you walk too much after anterior hip replacement?

Patients are encouraged to walk under guidelines provided by their healthcare team to ensure movement after surgery aids recovery without overexertion.

Can you climb stairs after anterior hip replacement?

Yes, patients can typically climb stairs soon after surgery, progressing from assisted to independent movement as they regain strength.

About The Author

Christian Baker

Christian was born in a Group Health hospital in Washington state and holds both American & Canadian citizenship. Christian is the head of our diagnostic & ambulatory surgery department for our Canadian…

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