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Total Hip Replacement: Posterior Approach Versus Anterior Approach

Summit Orthopedics hip and knee reconstruction specialist Michael Baer, M.D., weighs in on two main approaches to total hip replacement: posterior and anterior approach.

A total hip replacement treats severe arthritis by replacing the surfaces of the joint. Both the ball and socket of the hip joint are replaced with durable metal, ceramic, or plastic components. It can be a life-changing surgery for people whose hip arthritis pain is keeping them awake at night or is making it difficult for them to participate in their day-to-day activities. There are two common surgical approaches of total hip replacement surgery: the anterior approach and the posterior approach.

“Patients will ask about specific total hip replacement approaches. Sometimes, they become interested in one surgical option over another because a family member or friend had a good experience with that type of surgery. In other cases, patients are conducting their own research and come across these terms online,” Dr. Baer said. “I’m always happy to educate my patients on the options available and the differences among them.”

Anterior approach to total hip replacement

In the anterior approach, the surgeon accesses the hip from the front. “The anterior approach involves the internervous plane, working between muscle groups rather than splitting through muscle fibers,” Dr. Baer said. “This approach may aid with short-term bounce back immediately after surgery.”

Posterior approach to total hip replacement

In the posterior approach, the surgeon accesses the hip from the back. “In the posterior approach you do peel back muscle, but it has not been shown to change patient outcomes,” Dr. Baer said. “The technical success of the surgery and how hard you work during your rehabilitation are much more important” predictors of long-term success, regardless of approach.

The bottom line: both approaches are good choices

The Summit Orthopedics team is proud to be able to offer a range of surgical approaches to customize patient care. But, said Dr. Baer, the bottom line is simple: “Regardless of the approach, the mid- and long-term results of total hip replacement are essentially the same. More than anything, it’s a decision you’ll make with your surgeon as a team.”

When to seek treatment for your arthritis

Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, schedule an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.