Patients hip to new surgical technique
February 24, 2008
By ROWENA VERGARA firstname.lastname@example.org
AURORA — It’s a breakthrough that has rocked Europe for the last 10 years.
Internet bloggers can’t stop buzzing about it. And every year, Americans are
going overseas just to get it — until now.
It’s not some cosmetic procedure or the latest fad diet program. But the
Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration in 2006, has gained the attention of baby boomers and active
seniors who have the aches and pains (likely from arthritis), but don’t want to
commit to a total hip replacement.
One of the select facilities across the United States doing the procedure is
Castle Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Aurora. Dr. Mark Shinsky of Castle
Orthopaedics, who joined the practice in September, is one of the only surgeons
in the Fox Valley trained to implant the Birmingham hip.
Made of cobalt chrome, the implant includes a metal cap anchored by a pin that
locks into the femoral neck. A metal socket then hooks into the pelvis bone.
Only a few centimeters of bone around the ball are shaved to fit tightly inside
the hip implant.
In comparison, a total hip replacement requires the loss of the femoral head, or
ball, which is replaced by a metal ball. That is then attached to a metal stem
that goes into the shaft of the femur. The socket is replaced with metal and
The Birmingham hip is recommended for people younger than 65 who are active and
want to return to a mobile lifestyle, Shinsky says. A hip replacement, in
comparison, is usually meant for patients in their late 60s and early 70s who
live a sedentary lifestyle.
Although it gained FDA approval two years ago, the procedure has been done more
than 60,000 times around the world since 1997.
"Patients like it a lot, and they do extremely well after this surgery and
bounce back well," Shinsky said.
Jack Giesenschlag, 49, of Oswego, had the procedure done by Shinsky at
Rush-Copley Medical Center in October. Five weeks after the surgery, he went
back to work, and traveled for business appointments within seven weeks.
He plans to get back into bowling, something he hasn’t been able to do for six
years because of a deformed left hip. Giesenschlag acquired Leg Perthese
disease, a children’s syndrome in which circulation to the femoral head is
"It was hurting me on an everyday basis. I used to be a collegiate bowler, and I
gave up golf last year because I couldn’t tolerate the pain of it," he said. "I
would have to say it was almost pain free going through the entire process."
The Birmingham’s cobalt chrome components make it more durable than a total hip
implant. Traditionally, only the ball in a hip replacement is made from cobalt
chrome and the socket is lined with a plastic cup, which could wear out over
time, according to the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing Web site.
The dislocation rate is also virtually nonexistent. Dislocation is the leading
cause of implant failure in a total hip replacement, according to the site.
Still, total hip replacements are performed 300,000 times a year in the U.S.
Recovery time after the two-hour procedure is also impressive. Shinsky says
patients can go back to skiing, swimming, playing tennis or running hopefully
within a year.
The Birmingham hip is not the only device available to patients wanting a
resurfacing procedure, so it is recommended that patients research their
alternatives, and speak with a physician.