Anterior vs. Posterior “What’s the Difference?”

Dr. Peter Sculco - Hip Replacement

Hip replacement surgery is a common procedure that improves mobility and alleviates pain. It can be performed using one of two approaches – anterior or posterior.

What are anterior and posterior hip replacements?

Anterior and posterior hip replacements are surgeries that replace the hip socket and ball of the femur (thighbone) with man-made implants.

In an anterior hip replacement, your surgeon makes the incision through the front of your hip while you lie on your back. In a posterior replacement, your surgeon makes the incision through the back of your hip while you’re lying on your side.

Why would either of these surgeries be performed?

Anterior or posterior hip replacement surgeries are performed to replace a hip joint that has arthritis, which causes pain and a loss of motion. Other less invasive treatments are usually tried first, but if they don’t provide enough relief, hip replacement may be an option. Hip replacements are generally very successful and last for 20 to 30 years or more, on average.

What are the main differences between the two surgeries?

In addition to the approach – through the front of your hip for an anterior surgery and the back of your hip for a posterior procedure – these surgeries have the following differences:

  • Muscles affected – Anterior hip replacement surgery allows your surgeon to work in between your muscles, so little or no muscles are cut. Posterior surgery sometimes requires muscles and other soft tissues at the back of your hip to be cut in order to access your hip joint, but surgeons may also perform a muscle-sparing hip surgery, which means that muscles are separated rather than cut.
  • Technical ease – Anterior surgery can be more challenging for a surgeon to perform, especially if he or she doesn’t have much experience with this approach. That’s because your surgeon’s view of your hip joint is more limited. A posterior surgery provides a better view.
  • Healing time – You may heal faster in the short term if you have anterior surgery, but results for both types of hip replacement are comparable in the long-term.

What are the benefits of each?

The following are the benefits you’ll usually see from each type of surgery:


  • Leaves more muscles and tissues intact
  • Faster, less painful early recovery (first 6-8 weeks)
  • No restrictions on bending, stooping, crossing your legs, reaching your feet, or sleeping on your side after surgery
  • Decreased risk of hip dislocation since muscles and soft tissue structures aren’t disturbed
  • Shorter hospital stay


  • Allows surgeon to easily see the hip joint
  • Provides a more precise placement of hip implants
  • Is more commonly performed and has a longer history of success
  • Well-suited for more patients when compared to the anterior approach

Which type of surgery is usually preferred?

The posterior type of surgery is a highly successful, long-standing approach, but the best method may vary. Dr. Sculco bases his recommendations on each patient’s unique needs, and in some cases, he can utilize computer-assisted navigation that produces even more precise, accurate results.

Rapid Recovery with Dr. Peter Sculco

Dr. Sculco’s main goal is to get his patients back to their normal routines with improved functionality and minimal pain. With his rapid recovery approach, Dr. Sculco employs various techniques designed to ensure a faster recovery, while making the perioperative process as seamless and streamlined as possible.

To find out more about hip replacement surgery, make an appointment today for an evaluation with Dr. Sculco in NYC. He specializes in adult reconstruction of the hip and knee and uses the latest research and highest quality implants to deliver superior results and personalized care.



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