COLUMBUS, Ohio - People with damaged hips can now avoid joint replacements with a procedure first developed for knee surgery.
During subchondroplasty, a bone hardening material is injected into a small hole in the joint, filling voids and lesions.
It's less drastic than hip replacement, which involves major surgery, and months of rehabilitation.
Doctors at Ohio State University say it's especially good for younger patients - for whom early joint replacement can lead to more surgery down the line.
"Once you go through a hip replacement surgery, you can't really go back at that point in time," says Dr. Kelton Vasileff, an orthopedic surgeon at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center. "And there is potentially a finite lifespan to some of these implants," he adds.
The cement-like material that's injected is usually used along with other procedures to reverse damage or promote healing.
"Then, over time, his bone will regenerate and grow, and it replaces the cement material with normal bone," says Dr. Vasileff.
When Ben Wallace got leg pain at age 30, he thought it was just a basketball injury.
However, x-rays showed it was more substantial.
A hip replacement was one option, but he and his doctor chose subchondroplasty. Wallace says it went smoothly.
"Within a week, I was up on my feet with no crutches and little or no pain," he noted.
Dr. Vasileff says he often augments the procedure with platelet-rich plasma and bone marrow aspirate injections, which boost bone growth.
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