Hip replacement alternative for younger boomers
Updated Mon. Jan. 29 2007 5:02 PM ET
WASHINGTON – Doctors are beginning to offer a new alternative to hip replacement — one aimed at younger, athletic baby boomers who’ve worn out their joints too soon. Now they no longer have to wait until they hit their 60s for a fix.
It’s called hip resurfacing, covering a damaged hip’s ball and socket with smooth metal rather than cutting away worn bone and replacing it.
The operation hit the U.S. market last spring with Food and Drug Administration approval of the British-designed Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System. Competitors are in clinical trials here, and expected to clear FDA later this year.
It’s not the first time orthopedic surgeons have tried resurfacing
worn-out hips. But where earlier attempts failed, data from Europe
suggest this latest approach uses longer-lasting materials — with the
additional promise of a joint that may hold up to the heavy recreation
of today’s 40- and 50-somethings better than traditional hip implants.
"I do have people that call me and say, ‘My father had hip
resurfacing in 1970 and it didn’t work. Why are we doing that now?’ ”
says Dr. Michael J. Anderson, an orthopedic surgeon in Milwaukee who
estimates that about 15 per cent of his hip implants now are
…Moreover, while patients typically recover quickly,
resurfacing is harder to perform than a hip replacement, and only a
small fraction of orthopedic surgeons so far are trained to do it…
…So resurfacing is emerging as a niche for the younger sports
enthusiast. Dr. Marc Wiener, a Chicago-area internist, chose resurfacing
when his own hip degenerated in his 40s, because it came with few
restrictions on his activity. Wiener exercised before surgery to be in
prime condition for physical therapy afterward — and played 18 holes of
golf a month after his resurfacing, hit the basketball court at seven
weeks and the tennis courts in three months..