Birmingham Hip Resurfacing:
Regaining the Ability to Walk
By Joyce A. Reed
Like many Americans in their 50’s, I suffer from various forms of
osteoarthritis. For the past two years, the arthritis pain in my right hip
gradually increased. One day in January 2007, I woke up in the morning and
stepped out of bed placing my normal weight on my right leg. A sharp pain shot
from my right foot to my hip, and I sat back down quickly.
I made an immediate appointment with my orthopedist, and he discovered that the
cartilage in my right hip joint was gone! The joint surface was literally
“bone-on-bone”. He told me that I needed hip replacement surgery. I tried to
discuss other options with him, but he retorted, “You are not going to get out
of this one!” I needed the surgery.
Knowing nothing about hip replacement surgery, I researched the surgery on the
Internet and in issues of Arthritis Today© for answers to my many questions. I
discovered a recently approved FDA surgery originally developed in Europe,
Birmingham Hip Resurfacing.
Birmingham Hip Resurfacing  can be compared to capping your teeth instead of
pulling your whole tooth and replacing it with an implant. The actual device is
all metal consisting of chromium steel. It is simplistic in design being a
socket and ball with an attached stem. Unlike the former hip replacement
devices, the Birmingham does not have plastic parts that can easily fail. The
Birmingham procedure has been used in Europe for a few decades, and one marathon
runner reportedly is successfully running/walking on his/her Birmingham hip
replacement for 10 after the surgery. S/he has placed 35 life-cycle-years of use
on his/her hip. A life-cycle-year is how far a normal person walks in one year.
On the internet, I found Dr. Stephen Raterman of Tampa, Florida. Dr. Raterman
was the closest orthopedic surgeon using the Birmingham system to my home. I
called and made an appointment. While I waited for the appointment, I started
using a cane to walk since the pain of placing any weight on my right leg became
During my first appointment, Dr. Raterman and his staff were attentive,
professional and friendly. They x-rayed my hip and found that the ball section
of my right hip joint had completely collapsed. Dr. Raterman carefully explained
the details of the surgery to my husband and me. He told us that he would try to
perform the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing on me by grafting bone to buildup my
collapsed socket. Once the surgery began, if he discovered that he could not
graft enough bone to do the resurfacing then he would do a Birmingham Hip
Replacement. The Hip Replacement uses the same device as is used in the Hip
Resurfacing, but the stem on the ball is longer to give the Replacement the
stability it needs to operate correctly. When I left his office, I was very
comfortable about my upcoming surgery.
In early May 2007, I checked into the University Community Hospital at Fletcher
in Tampa, Florida. The hospital staffs were friendly and helpful. They quickly
and easily prepared me for my surgery. My husband remained with me until I was
moved into surgery.
My surgery lasted about two hours. My husband was impressed with the electronic
patient status monitor in the waiting room. The board gave detailed information
about me to him concerning pre-operation, operation and post-operation status. I
woke in the Recovery Room with only a mild sore feeling in my hip. While
everyone was very concerned about my pain levels, I never really had any pain.
The surgical scar was only about 12 inches long and very thin. If I regained my
ability to walk, it was a small sacrifice to make. My husband joined me in the
Recovery Room, and I was quickly moved to my hospital room.
The hospital nursing and therapy staff provided excellent and friendly care. The
day following the surgery, my therapist got me out of bed and up on my feet. The
pain in my right leg was gone! I continued therapy and was released two days
after my surgery.
I walked with a walker while in the hospital and for approximately ten days
after leaving the hospital. I then went directly to walking with a slight limp
for another week. The limp gradually improved until I walked normally again!
I did have one obvious post-operative problem. How could I pass through Homeland
Security checkpoints at airports if I had a large metal object inside of my leg?
Dr. Raterman’s office solved this problem by issuing me a medical security card
listing my name, date of operation and an illustration of the device. Homeland
Security accepts the card in conjunction with my normal picture identification.
I believe that writers overuse the word miracle, but miracle is the only word
that fits my Birmingham Hip Resurfacing experience. The surgery changed my life
bringing me from someone who could barely walk with a cane to normal walking. I
can now completely enjoy my life.
I cannot find the words to thank my doctors, especially Dr. Raterman, for
performing this miracle. I also want to thank Arthritis Today© for publishing
informative articles that led to my discovering the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing.
For further information concerning this new procedure, see
courtesy of Dr. Stephen Raterman
courtesy of Worley (Lee) Reed, Author’s Husband