Health Team

Newer approach to hip replacement promises faster recovery

Posted May 10, 2013

— Many people put up with hip pain because they can't afford time off their feet recovering from hip replacement surgery. However, a newer approach to the surgery is less invasive and promises a faster recovery.

Kathleen Falco, 77, dealt with osteoarthritis in her right hip for years and knew she needed a hip replacement, but says she kept putting it off because she was “afraid of surgery.”

Her problem was in the ball and socket joint, where the cartilage that lubricates the movement was worn away. Typically, surgeons access the hip from the side, but WakeMed orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Timothy Harris offered Falco a newer, less invasive approach – anterior hip replacement.

“So, instead of going through the side, where we have to cut muscle off the hip, we go in from the front, and we can spread the muscles apart to get the hip in,” Harris said.

Normally, the anterior approach makes placing the new joint parts more difficult.

“So they developed some special instruments to make it easier to put it in,” Harris said.

The new tools and technique have been around for several years, but Harris says their use is now more widespread.

“The recovery is a little bit faster, so they don't have as much pain after surgery, and they bounce back a little bit faster,” he said.

Falco's younger sister had the traditional surgery and stayed in the hospital a day longer. It also took longer to get on her feet for a shower, whereas it took Falco just three days.

“She just couldn't believe it. ‘You took a shower already?’” Falco laughed.

Falco also got off pain pills and no longer needed a walker or cane after three weeks.

Even with the anterior hip replacement, doctors recommend their patients take it slower for six to eight weeks after surgery to avoid complications.


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  • NoRespect May 14, 2013

    Bob Bubbles must be a Republican... They don't want anyone to get any kind of assistance, not even the kind that would make their lives better.

  • thinkb4speak May 13, 2013

    @Bob Bubbles - you just don't get it. I have had 2 family members have hip replacement - one the old way and one the new. The difference is astrinomical in terms of pain and recovery. It is saving Medicare alot of money because the patient is in the hospital for less time, requires less at home nursing care, less physical therapy, and less pain meds. Not to mention less pain for that 77yr old woman that, according to you, has no where to be! How insensitive can you possibly be. I am sure you have no relationship with your Mom because you would be OK with her being in pain for longer as long as a $ is saved!

  • Bob Bubbles May 10, 2013

    Does the new technique cost more? If so, the old gal can just be patient, and Medicare can save some money. (She's 77: What does she have to do that can't wait a few weeks?) The article makes it sound like the advance is wonderful and ever hip replacement should be done this way, but there's probably another article on the WRAL website right now that's trying to figure out why health care costs so much. Reporters should be required to ask the innovative doctors they interview if they (the MDs) make more money off the "wonderful breakthrough".