Quality of Life Regained "Close to Home"
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Mark Allison, 50, felt his quality of life slowly ebbing away as the arthritis pain in his hip worsened. He gave up riding horses, running and his boxing workouts. Soon he was turning down invitations to ball games because he couldn’t walk from the parking lot to the stadium. Tending horses at his family’s stable became increasingly difficult, and walking from his car to his office made him sick with pain. He worried that he wouldn’t be able to continue working as a police detective.
When the pain “got to the point that I couldn’t stand it anymore,” he visited Dennis Brown, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital.
Dr. Brown is one of a handful of surgeons in Ohio who has performed a significant number of hip resurfacing procedures. Mark was thrilled to learn he qualified, and that it could be done close to home. “Patients don’t need to leave town to benefit from the latest techniques and technologies in orthopedics. They can find that care right here at Good Samaritan Hospital,” says Dr. Brown.
The technique, new in the U.S., is helping many younger hip patients regain their quality of life. Although the Food and Drug Administration approved the first hip resurfacing device only about a year ago, doctors overseas have done the procedure for years.
In a hip replacement, a surgeon removes the head and neck of the femur and replaces it with a prosthetic. In hip resurfacing, by contrast, the neck of the femur is left in place. The damaged head is smoothed and capped with durable, high carbide cobalt chrome. The procedure conserves bone, which is especially important in younger patients, should they need a full hip replacement in the future.
Because the surgeon must work around the femur, hip resurfacing requires a larger incision–at least six inches. Patients can begin walking on the day of surgery and can cross their legs and bend over almost immediately, says Dr. Brown. Most are discharged the next day. They can return to a sedentary job after two or three weeks and to a physically demanding job after two to four months.
“The biggest difference I notice,” says Dr. Brown, “is that patients who have had a hip replacement tell me, ‘the pain is gone’ while patients who have had hip resurfacing tell me, ‘my hip feels normal.’”
Dr. Brown says younger, active patients are the best candidates because they are highly motivated to aid their recovery by being active. Mark had his surgery in September. He used crutches for about 10 days before graduating to a single crutch. Three weeks later, he gave up crutches entirely and returned to work.
Today Mark tends the horses at his stable, runs on a treadmill, and boxes with a heavy bag without pain. He recently took his first ski trip. “Before surgery, my hip was really affecting my quality of life. Now I can throw hay and manage the horses and fix fences. This has given me a second shot at life.”