Joint Replacement - New Approach Offers Faster Recovery
By George Nevin
Just in time for a tidal wave of aging Boomers with painful knees and aching hips, Sutter Health orthopedic surgeons are rolling out innovative joint replacement techniques that enable individuals to heal from surgery more quickly and get back to their lives.
During the past few years, the speed and precision with which doctors can implant artificial hip and knee joints has greatly improved.
“We now use a standard approach that encompasses new technology, best practices, and superior organization,” says Orthopedic Surgeon Christopher V. Cox, M.D. Patients love the results. “I had hip pain for eight months before I saw Dr. Cox and learned that my hip cartilage was nonexistent,” says Shahnam Davani, a 45-year-old Marin native and current San Francisco resident. Due to his patient’s age and active lifestyle, Dr. Cox suggested a new type of hip surgery involving just two days in the hospital. “A week after my surgery I attended a pool party at my aunt’s house—and even got into the pool!” says Shahnam, marveling at his quick recovery.
Joint Replacement Without a Long Hospital Stay
When hip and knee replacements became widespread in the mid-1980s, individuals stayed in the hospital for two weeks after surgery. Today, hospital stays have dropped to just two days in many cases.
“The faster one can move around and regain activity following surgery, the smaller the risk of clots, infections and other bad outcomes,” explains Dr. Cox.
Advanced Technology Critical to Better Outcomes
Improved technology plays a large part in boosting joint replacement outcomes. For instance, newer, high-strength plastic components result in better comfort and long-term wear than metal or ceramic parts.
For knee replacement, doctors may use custom-made replacement knee parts that are precisely implanted according to one’s anatomy. Result: faster surgery and less time in the operating room.
Another innovation for knee surgery, likened to a “GPS system for the knee,” allows surgeons to easily calculate locations and angles for surgical cuts, resulting in a better range of motion and speedier recovery for patients following surgery. Dr. Steven Smith explains, “We no longer need to employ large, cumbersome, computer-assisted console systems. As a result, knee surgery takes less time today than ever, enabling a faster return to activities.”
For hip surgery, Orthopedic Surgeon Nikolaj Wolfson, M.D. is one of several Sutter Health doctors who employ an anterior approach to hip replacement. This direct anterior approach involves separating muscles, rather than cutting muscles, and doing so from the front rather than the back or side of the hip. “This way, an individual’s replaced hip joint is more stable, the patient recovers faster, and does not require specialized postoperative precautions or extensive physical therapy,” says Dr. Wolfson.
Who Is a Candidate for Two-Day Hip Surgery?
- Individuals age 60 or younger
- Good overall health
- Strong support network at home—family, friends, and/or paid caregivers
- Live in a home with few steps or stairs
For more information on two-day hip or knee replacement surgery at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, call 888-637-2762.