Anterior hip replacement can lead to quicker recovery
By: MARJORIE PRESTON
Staff Writer, The Current
SOMERS POINT – Greg Gregory, owner of Gregory’s Restaurant & Bar on Shore Road, had his second hip replacement in September of 2011. Two days later he walked out of the hospital under his own steam, aided only by a cane. Two months later he hiked to the top of a 3,400-feet peak on the Appalachian Trail.
It’s a marked difference from his first operation in 2004, because the operation itself was different.
This time Gregory underwent a direct anterior hip replacement, in which the joint is installed from the front of the hip, not the side or back. Because the joint is reached by separating the muscles of the front of the hip, the operation is minimally invasive. The surgeon does not have to cut into muscles, tendons and nerves, so there is reduced trauma and pain, less need for medication, and a much shorter recovery period, according to Dr. Stephen Zabinski of Shore Orthopedic University Associates.
“I should have had it done sooner,” said Gregory, who damaged his hips in a series of sporting accidents. “I had a quick recovery. It went great for me.”
Hip replacements have been widespread since the late 1970s, but the anterior approach is still relatively new.
Zabinski, who has been performing the streamlined procedure for about a year, said the operation is a good alternative for younger, more active patients who are in generally good shape. The patients can return to full function more quickly because the muscles used for basic activities like standing, walking and using the stairs are left intact.
Patients can go home in one to two days rather than three to four, Zabinski said.
“There are no worries the joint will pop out of place. They can sit in a low chair. They can drive.”
The incision is also smaller by about 40 percent.
Zabinksi said he was astounded the first time he saw a patient, a day out of surgery, rest his ankle on his knee to put on a pair of socks.
“In 20 years of orthopedics I had never seen a fresh post-op patient do that within 24 hours,” he said. “It made me a believer.”
The operation may not be advisable for patients with osteoporosis or joint deformities, or people with too much body mass. Also, with the benefits comes a greater risk of complications, including blood clots, infection, nerve damage, bone fracture and dislocation of the hip prostheses, said Zabinski. But for fairly robust patients who are in good health, the direct anterior hip replacement can be a desirable option.
ShoreOrthopaedicUniversity Associates is at 710 Center St., Somers Point. For information call (609) 927-1991 or see www.shoreorthodocs.com.