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A New Twist for Hip Replacements

Reinvented surgical technique reduces pain, speeds recovery time

(HealthDay) -- Hip replacement surgery used to require a four- or five-day hospital stay. But, with some doctors, it's now in and out in 12 hours.

So, is that a good thing? According to an article from CNN, it is. A new approach, pioneered by a Chicago doctor and several colleagues, transforms a hip replacement into a minimally invasive operation.

The idea is to make two small incisions instead of a 12-inch slice. The doctors -- Dr. Richard Berger of Chicago and colleagues in Montreal and Portland, Ore. -- use the same type of artificial hip that has always been used. But their work tools are different. They reinvented the saws, drills and other equipment so they fit into small spaces. With the new tools, the surgeons don't have to dislocate and struggle with the patient's old hips before they slip in the new ones. The work is being supported by hip manufacturer Zimmer Inc.

The doctors are doing a 120-patient study to make sure the new technique eases short-term recovery and doesn't harm long-term effectiveness. So far, the doctors say, patients are experiencing less pain, less muscle damage and less bleeding, the article says.

The number of hip replacements is going up each year as the population ages. About 250,000 surgeries are now performed each year. Many people put off the operation because it has historically caused so much pain and because full recovery can take months. With the new type of surgery, some patients have asked to be discharged the same day. But they're warned that the new operation doesn't speed up the bone's fusion with the new joint, so they still have to be careful and take about three weeks for recuperation.

To find out more about hip replacement surgery, you can read this information from the Medical College of Wisconsin, or this from The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

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