JIFFY HIP* Can Lead to Quicker Recovery than Traditional ApproachBy Michael Higgins, M.D.
| Michael Higgins, M.D.|
Arthritic hip pain stops many people in their tracks. Sharp groin and thigh pain while walking, standing or changing positions are the most common symptoms. They may begin as mild discomfort and progress to severe intolerable pain.
When nagging hip pain slows daily activities, most people make simple changes like limiting walks and other activities that are too painful. Anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers, or even using walking aids are other options for relief. However, for about 200,000 Americans each year, hip pain becomes so intense or quality of life is diminished that they opt for hip replacement surgery.
Hip replacement surgery has a proven track record and is among the most successful surgeries to relieve pain, restore mobility and improve patients’ quality of life. In the past, orthopedic surgeons generally reserved hip replacement surgery for people over 60 years old. Given its success, now younger patients, who are eager to maintain their activity level, are considering hip replacement surgery earlier.
New materials and evolving technology for hip replacements are making earlier hip replacements a reality. Advances in these metals, plastics and ceramics are making hip replacements last longer with greater durability. As a result, orthopedic surgeons are more comfortable offering this surgery to younger patients.
Evolution of Hip Replacement
Hip replacements have been among the most successful surgeries performed for decades, and they continue to evolve toward a less invasive procedure with a quicker recovery. Significant advancements in surgical techniques, materials, anesthesia and pain control are making this possible.
Patients today have a much less daunting experience compared to patients 10 years ago. The average patient stays in the hospital two to three days, and most patients can bear weight on their new hip the day of surgery. Typical recovery rates are now measured in weeks not months.
The direct anterior approach hip replacement, known as “JIFFY HIP*” by some patients for its quicker recovery, is arguably the biggest step in the evolution of hip replacement in recent memory.
Nobody knows better than 79-year old Mickey Browning the difference a new hip can make, or even two. Within the last two years, she’s had both of her hips replaced, one using the traditional method and the other using what’s known as the JIFFY HIP*.
“My first hip, done traditionally, was painful and took me forever to move without a cane or walker. When the cold air of winter hit it, it was horrible,” she said.
With the new anterior hip replacement she had about three weeks ago, Mickey is off and running. “I’m the energizer bunny,” she says. “This new method is wonderful. I’ve been up and walking since the day of surgery and I came home exactly two days after surgery.”
While the anterior approach has been used for over a century, primarily for pediatric hip procedures, it has not been used significantly for hip replacement because of inadequate exposure.
Specialized operating tables now allow surgeons to safely perform hip replacement through this approach. With this approach, the surgeon works between muscles, avoiding some muscles that are cut during traditional hip replacements. As a result, less healing needs to occur after surgery, and patients feel stronger, allowing for a speedier recovery than is expected with traditional hip replacements.
Many patients with the direct anterior approach hip spend less time using a walker and cane after surgery. Additionally, they experience greater stability and are less likely to dislocate the hip, because more tissue around the hip has been preserved. These patients have fewer restrictions on bending and reaching, facilitating quicker return to many activities.
Do Your Homework
If hip replacement is in your future, do your homework. Many orthopedic surgeons perform hip replacements, while others have added training and interest specifically in joint replacement.
On average, a general orthopedic surgeon may do 10 to 20 hip replacements a year, while a joint replacement specialist may do 10 times that number. A fellowship-trained joint replacement surgeon had an extra year of training solely on the intricacies of joint replacement, allowing him or her to be better able to deal with more complicated cases.
Similarly, hospitals specialized in joint replacement, or even better, those dedicated to orthopedic surgery likely have comprehensive joint replacement programs including staff specially trained in the care of orthopedic patients. A number of studies have shown increased surgeon and hospital volumes can mean better quality control and improved clinical outcomes.
Talk to Your Surgeon
Only you and your orthopedic surgeon can decide if and when hip replacement is the right choice for you. If you are experiencing the pain of hip arthritis, hip replacement surgery may allow you to move on with your life without your current limitations. The combination of new technologies and advanced techniques along with a proven track record of success, offers reasons for optimism among those who suffer with hip pain.
*JIFFY HIP is a registered trademark of Mizuho Orthopedic Systems Inc.
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Michael Higgins, MD, practices at the Orthopaedic Hospital at Sentara CarePlex and is an orthopedic surgeon with Tidewater Orthopaedic Associates.
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