Anterior hip replacement surgery

December 2, 2010

61-year-old Judy Gordon loves her job as a real estate agent, sports, and spending time with her dog Maggie May. But in recent years, arthritis in her hips made life painful.

"When I got here to the office, people would say, "Oh, I can see you're in so much pain," said Judy Gordon.

In 2008, she had one hip replaced with the traditional technique. But regaining her mobility was a challenge.

"I could scarcely use the stairs, and it was hard to get into bed," said Gordon.

When it came time to replace her other hip, Judy's surgeon, Andrew Star at Abington Memorial Hospital, was using a slightly different approach called "Anterior Hip Replacement.

Instead of making an incision in the back or the side of the hip, Star went through a small incision in the front.

"The back structures are very critical, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, are holding the hip together, and we don't disturb those," said Dr. Andrew Star.

It also avoids the tendons and ligaments on the side. To make the front approach, Star uses a special table which was originally developed for trauma surgeons. A patient's feet are put into special traction boots attached to the table's tracks.

"The table allows us, by pulling some levers and things, to put the leg in almost any position we want," said Dr. Star.

By slipping the joint in between the important muscles, tendons, and ligaments, patients bounce back much faster.

"I come to make rounds, and the patient's already gone, or they say to me, 'Doc, can I leave soon'," said Dr. Star. "We've had people back to work in 2 and 3 weeks."

This time, Judy went home right from the hospital, with almost no restrictions. Three weeks after surgery, she was driving and showing homes again.

"It takes a lot of energy to show a house, because you're upstairs, downstairs, you're into the basement, and walking the grounds," said Judy.

And she was also taking Maggie May for their daily walks.

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