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The anterior approach for total hip replacement is a tissue-sparing alternative to traditional hip replacement surgery that provides potential for less pain, faster recovery and improved mobility because the muscle tissues are spared during the surgery.

An anterior hip replacement refers to a surgery done from the front of the hip, compared to the traditional posterior and lateral approaches. This spares the muscles from being detached or split during the procedure.

A minimally invasive, or muscle-sparing, approach means the doctor performs the surgery through smaller incisions (cuts). Incision size varies between three and five inches, depending on the patient’s anatomy.

Using minimally invasive techniques allows the patient to potentially have better function and reduced rehabilitation time.


Conditions that can damage the hip joint, sometimes making hip replacement surgery necessary, include:

  • Osteoarthritis. Commonly known as wear-and-tear arthritis, osteoarthritis damages the slick cartilage that covers the ends of bones and helps joints move smoothly.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Caused by an overactive immune system, rheumatoid arthritis produces a type of inflammation that can erode cartilage and occasionally underlying bone, resulting in damaged and deformed joints.
  • Osteonecrosis. If there isn’t enough blood supplied to the ball portion of the hip joint, such as might result from a dislocation or fracture, the bone might collapse and deform.

You might consider hip replacement if you have hip pain that:

  • Persists, despite pain medication
  • Worsens with walking, even with a cane or walker
  • Interferes with your sleep
  • Makes it difficult to get dressed
  • Affects your ability to go up or down stairs
  • Makes it difficult to rise from a seated position

However, if you are feeling depressed or frustrated because you can’t be as mobile as you want to be, these are signs you need a hip replacement and it’s time to speak to a total joint specialist about your options.

About two-thirds of patients who undergo hip replacement are eligible for the minimally-invasive approach. Candidates include:

  • People who are fit and motivated enough to handle the accelerated rehabilitation process
  • Those who have adequate social support at home to assist them immediately following surgery. Minimally-invasive surgery patients return home after only two days in the hospital and will require assistance around the house for at least one to two weeks
  • People who do not have other significant medical problems and those whose medical issues (e.g. diabetes or high blood pressure)are well managed

It is thought that minimally-invasive hip replacement surgery is less painful than the traditional approach primarily because muscles and tissue are not disrupted to the same degree. The hospital stay with minimally-invasive surgery is usually one to two days versus three to four days with traditional surgery