New hip joints a good fit for women

February 10, 2008 9:53:55 AM PST
When it comes to joint replacement, one size does not fit all. Not long ago, we told you of knee joints made specifically for women. Now, there's a hip joint designed for women too.

Ruth Gorman, her sister Meg, and 2 other sisters did a grand tour of Europe last summer.

It was the trip of a lifetime - a celebration before Ruth underwent surgery to relieve crippling arthritis pain in her hip.

She recalls that pain, "It got to the point where it was hard sleeping. I couldn't drive. I couldn't get comfortable sitting in the car. I couldn't sit in a movie. I couldn't kneel."

Doctor Richard Berger of Rush University Medical Center replaced her hip joint with a new "gender-specific" implant he helped design.

"Now we have new technology which will match everyone's anatomy perfectly," he notes.

The traditional artificial hip is designed for a man's body.

Anatomical differences in women increase the likelihood of a design mismatch and subsequent pain or implant failure.

Dr. Berger says, "Some patients we happened to be able to hit on the mark, if they happened to fit the traditional prosthesis. Here we have much more variety."

The new implant has 3 separate parts, so it's adjustable for a woman's size and shape.

Dr. Berger explains, "Their hips are not quite as long and their bone structure is much smaller. So therefore the stem that goes in is a little smaller and the neck that goes on there for a man is way too long. So we needed to get a more petite version for women."

Another plus, says Dr. Berger, it's minimally invasive surgery. "This new prosthesis which comes apart and can be implanted in pieces, allows us to do it without cutting the muscles or the tendons."

Patients are only in the hospital a few hours, and leave walking on their own, or with a cane.

Ruth says, "I didn't have any pain. It was achy and it was stiff."

After a few weeks of rehab, the stiffness in Ruth's hip was gone.

Now, she says, "I'm not limited in anything. Driving, kneeling, sitting in a movie, any of that. Everything's great."

A new hip - designed to fit - got Ruth back in stride again.