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Radically Hip 

Thanks to a new approach, getting a new hip doesn’t have to entail a big incision

There doesn’t seem to me to be anything hip about hip surgery. Not to be flip, but it hardly seems the ‘in’ thing to do. However, if you look at the number of hip replacement patients, it seems I’m definitely wrong.

“I was pretty impressed when I got up and walked on it,” says 53-year old Mary-Ann Hay. “I [had] lived with a 9-out-of-10 pain everyday.”

Hay knew she needed to do something about the pain and contacted Dr. Timothy Lovell at Rockwood Clinic to discuss a progressive approach to hip surgery. It’s called direct anterior total hip arthroplasty, a minimally invasive surgery that often allows the patient to be mobile within hours or days of surgery.

“It’s doing surgery without going through or across any muscles or tendons,” says Dr. Lovell. “Generally [patients] recover faster and easier.”

The surgery has been done for years overseas. It was developed in France but took several years to travel to the U.S. Now, it’s sort of a ‘hip’ procedure (pun intended). Dr. Lovell says he performs about 20 to 25 surgeries a month.

“It’s becoming more and more popular,” says Lovell.

The surgery is radical in that patients like Hay generally have minimal recovery time, a small scar, and can often resume normal activity within a couple of months. “I should be able to get back to work in eight to ten weeks,” says Hay, who is a registered nurse.

But what’s really radical is the age of the patients opting for hip surgery. In the past, it was often a procedure reserved for the elderly. Now it’s for younger patients who want to reduce their pain and resume an active lifestyle.

Dr. Lovell says there are a couple of reasons hip replacement surgery is popular and a viable option for younger people. He says high-impact exercise and carrying more body weight means body parts are wearing out faster and need to be replaced.

“We were on the forefront of this exercise thing,” says Hay. If it was high-impact — running, hiking and aerobics — she participated. It may have been at least partly due to her efforts at being healthy that she landed on the operating table at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Hay is certainly not alone in her surgical quest for a pain-free life. Hip replacement numbers are climbing dramatically. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 160,000 people had total hip replacements in 1998. By 2005, nearly 240,000 patients were getting the surgery.

And the less invasive surgery is “creating a lot of curiosity,” says Dr. Lovell. Recently, this minimally invasive hip surgery was broadcast live from Sacred Heart Medical Center to a worldwide symposium in New York City.

As with all surgeries there are risks, and there is no perfect answer to replacing a body part. Hay says the pain medications made her extremely ill and she’s not yet in her dancing shoes. That said, she’s part of a growing group of people who are finding life without pain may be the hippest thing they can do for themselves.


Take Care of Yourself

Everybody says it’s unbelievable how fast the year goes and it’s true. It’s hard to get used to saying 2008. But here at KREM-TV, 2007 was an amazing year of breaking news, wild weather and new challenges.

We launched the Health Link campaign a year ago and covered issues ranging from women’s health to heart disease and diabetes. We were fortunate enough to team up with Sacred Heart in the Women’s Show, which was a big success. Just wait until you see what’s planned this year.

We also took part in the American Heart Association’s Go Red Luncheon that raised $135,000 to fight heart disease. That luncheon is almost here again (Feb. 13th) and the need is greater than ever. Call the American Heart Association today to get involved.

Of course, for those of us who love holiday foods, it’s time to buckle down and start our eating and exercise routines, get the kids back in their school routine and face the resolutions we’re desperately trying not to give up on. The first few months of 2008 are shaping up to be busy. I don’t give advice on health, but I will say this one thing: Take care of yourself. It’s a new year so why not try something new? In fact, that would be a great resolution — maybe even one we can keep.

We never seem to run out of stories on health, but we’d sure like to hear from you. Write us at [email protected] You can help by letting us know what’s important to you.

Enjoy your new year, enjoy your family and most of all enjoy your good health!

Nadine Woodward
KREM 2 News Anchor & Health Link Anchor

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