Alan Reed | The Sun
Jane Merry leaves her hospital room on a forray Friday, just 11 days after having both hips replaced. The anterior hip replacement is less invasive than traditional hip surgery, leading to quicker recovery and less pain.
Jane Merry explores the hallways of Lourdes on Friday, just 11 days after having both hips replaced. The anterior hip replacement is less invasive than traditional hip surgery, leading to quicker recovery and less pain. Merry travels quickly with a walker for support, and also uses the hallway railing for balance. She was discharged later in the afternoon.
Alan Reed | The Sun
Jane Merry's new hips show up brightly on an X-ray shown by her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Shiraz Patel. Patel said the new technique means recovery time is reduced. For therapy, Merry must learn to improve her gait, but needs no help building strength to support the new joints. Bilateral hip replacement was virtually unheard of given the severity of older surgical techniques but is easy with the anterior hip replacement technique used by Patel.
By Alan Reed
Jane Merry thinks recovering from simultaneous double hip replacement at Lourdes is a breeze compared to the debilitating joint disease that brought her to the hospital for the procedure.
“The number one reason to get both hips replaced was the doctor checked them and found both were completely destroyed,” Merry, 60, of Paducah, said. “When they checked my hips again, they found they were worse, and recovery is no worse than the pain I was in. I asked the doctor to do both at once.”
Merry said her hip deterioration was the result of a degenerative condition that runs in her family. Without hip replacement, she would have been confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
“I’d rather fight harder and do two at a time and be through with it,” Merry said. “The doctors said I would be a good candidate for the procedure so we went in with the idea of doing both.”
Merry called the procedure miraculous. Entering the hospital in a wheelchair, she walked with the aid of a walker the day after her June 27 surgery. She exceeded goals of her physical therapy and walked more with the walker and with the rail along the hospital corridor. Noon on July 8 found Merry preparing for her return home later in the afternoon.
Orthopedist Dr. Shiraz Patel said the minimal pain and rapid recovery is a result of using a new anterior hip replacement technique. Instead of entering through the rear of the patient’s thigh, a new table allows surgeons to enter the patient’s hip through the front. Surgeons are able to expose the hip by separating two muscles of the leg, rather than cutting them away from the bone, before replacing the top of the thigh bone, and ball and socket of the joint.
“Six to eight years ago, we would have never thought of doing two hips at once. The procedure would be too painful and the recovery would take too long,” Patel said. “This procedure is minimally invasive, and if we have the right patient, we have a great chance of success replacing both hips.”
Patel added patients have a chance of discharge within 14 days or less with the new anterior hip replacement procedure. Older procedures required six weeks or more of physical therapy.
“We don’t want her to overdo therapy,” Patel said. “Her only restriction is herself. Right now, we want her to let the hip stretch out.”
Mark Evans, physical therapy assistant at Lourdes, said he has never seen a dual hip replacement with the older techniques. For Merry’s therapy, Evans described the process as correcting bad habits in gait and stride instead of strengthening and overcoming pain.
“We have to teach her to walk because she developed some problems compensating for pain and the disability before the surgery,” Evans said. “She walked a little oddly at first. It took just a little bit of time to get her going, and she took off like a rocket.”
For Merry, she plans to get on with the rest of her life, including helping to raise a grandchild.
“I don’t want to miss anything I can do now.”