June 25, 2007 – For Tony Wojtkowski the realization that he was facing a
lifetime of living in pain came last Christmas while shopping with his wife. "I
could barely walk around the mall," said the 45 year-old housing consultant from
South Elgin. "I had to stop and rest every couple of minutes, the pain was
Wojtkowski, like millions of individuals, suffers from hip pain caused by
osteoarthritis, a joint disease that affects cartilage. Unfortunately, cortisone
injections and painkillers provided only temporary relief of Wojtkowski’s pain.
He was further discouraged after doctors advised him against having hip
replacement surgery because he was still relatively young, and would basically
"wear out" the replacement implant much sooner than someone less active. "I
explored every option available," said Wojtkowski. He eventually came to the
conclusion that his constant pain would always interfere with his personal and
professional life. "I mostly missed the simple things like being able to go on
bike rides with my kids."
In January of 2007, Wojtkowski learned of a brand new procedure from Dr. Daniel
Kuesis of Midwest Sports Medicine, an orthopedic surgeon with the Alexian
Brothers Hospital Network in suburban Chicago. The procedure, called hip
resurfacing, would give Wojtkowski hope for regaining a pain-free life. Dr.
Kuesis is among the first surgeons in the country to be trained in the
remarkable new Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) technique. Rather than replacing
the entire hip joint, hip resurfacing simply shaves and caps a few centimeters
of bone within the joint. The bone-conserving approach of the Birmingham Hip
Resurfacing System preserves more of the patient’s natural bone structures and
stability, covering the joint’s surfaces with an all-metal implant that more
closely resembles a tooth cap than a hip implant. This approach reduces the
post-operative risks of dislocation, and because the all-metal implant is made
from tough, smooth cobalt chrome, it outlasts traditional hip implants.
Total hip replacement involves the removal of the entire femoral head and neck
explained Dr. Kuesis. The Birmingham Hip resurfacing technique, however, leaves
the head and neck untouched. It is this neck length and angle that determines
the natural length of a patient’s leg after surgery, and since it is not removed
and replaced with an artificial device during the resurfacing procedure, there
is a greater likelihood of maintaining accurate leg length, thus resumption of
normal physical activities. "This is one of the most exciting procedures I’ve
seen in years," said Kuesis. "I see hip resurfacing as the ideal solution for
many of my young, active patients who suffer from hip pain. As my patients are
getting younger and younger, and are staying physically active much later in
life, I’ve needed an alternative to total hip replacement that accommodates
their age and lifestyle.
The Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System is that alternative." Remarkably, an
estimated two million Americans who suffer from hip osteoarthritis are under the
age of 65. "There has always been that perception that hip surgery is for the
elderly, but that’s simply not the case anymore. We’re seeing many patients in
their 40s who are already experiencing severe osteoarthritis," explained Kuesis.
Just one month after receiving his hip resurfacing, Wojtkowski is making
remarkable progress, and can already tell a difference in both his mobility and
function. "It is like a new lease on life," he continued. "I am so grateful for
this technology and those who are making it available."