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thing: Hip replacement alternative is being performed in Rockford
boomers are hitting retirement age, but that doesn’t mean they’re
taking it easy.
generation that listened to The Who singing “hope I die before I get
old” in the 1960s is redefining what it means to be old in the new
remodeling the home and digging up the garden. They’re golfing,
running, cycling and chasing grandchildren, or their own.
there’s one thing even baby boomers can’t control: what aging does to
the technology, tools and medicine used to treat joints has vastly
improved, so much that one new procedure has been made for the baby
Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System is a new alternative to the total hip
replacement. In the northern Illinois region, only one surgeon, Mark
Barba of Rockford Orthopedic Associates, is trained to do it.
recommended for people younger than 60 who are active and want to
return to their mobile lifestyle. In comparison, a hip replacement is
usually meant for patients in their late 60s and early 70s who live a
sedentary lifestyle. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
approved it just last May, the procedure has been done 60,000 times
around the world since 1997.
arrival of the Birmingham hip replacement to the United States sends a
clear message about this age group: baby boomers want to stay active,
and they’re searching for every possible way to climb, bike and swim
for years and decades to come.
Tucker, 52, of Rockford was one of those people. She waited almost five
years for a Birmingham hip to quell the end-stage osteoarthritis in her
hip. Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease also known as “wear
and tear” arthritis, is one of four main diseases that could call for a
hip replacement or resurfacing.
“I had to
use a cane because I limped so badly. I got where I didn’t go shopping
anymore. I did the Internet when it came to birthday presents. I used
to walk my dogs three miles a day,” she said.
told her she was too young for a hip replacement and needed to wait.
Given her age and active lifestyle, a total hip replacement would last
just 10 or 15 years, she said.
of like miles you put on tires. The more miles you put on the quicker
they wear out. The more active you are, the more you wear out your
hip,” she said.
research on the Birmingham hip led her to Barba, an orthopedic surgeon
who received training in England from the maker of the implant. Only
400 U.S. surgeons are trained for a Birmingham hip resurfacing. Barba
has done a dozen surgeries at Rockford Memorial Hospital and OSF Saint
Anthony Medical Center since September.
gladly scheduled the procedure for a few reasons.
In a total
hip replacement, the femoral head, or ball, is sacrificed and replaced
by a metal ball. That is then attached to a metal stem that goes into
the shaft of the femur. The socket is replaced with metal and plastic
the Birmingham hip, more bone is conserved, Barba said. The implant
involves two parts: a metal cap anchored by a pin, that locks into the
femoral neck and a metal socket that hooks into the pelvis bone. Only a
few centimeters of bone around the ball are shaved to fit tightly
inside the hip implant.
made entirely of cobalt chrome making it more durable and longer
lasting than a total hip implant. Traditionally, only the ball in a hip
replacement is made from cobalt chrome and the socket is lined with a
plastic cup, which could wear out over time, according to the
Birmingham Hip Resurfacing Web site.
dislocation rate is also virtually nonexistent. Dislocation is the
leading cause of implant failure in a total hip replacement, according
to thesite. Still, a total hip replace-ment is performed 300,000 times
a year in the U.S.
time after hip resurfacing is also impressive. Barba estimates that a
patient could bicycle three to six months after surgery and run after
a total hip replacement, patients cannot cross their legs and must
sleep a certain way. Also, “you’re limited to not bending past 90
degrees for the first half of the year,” Barba said.
should know that the Birmingham is not for everybody. “This is a hip
procedure for a young person who has high demands and expects a lot out
of the hip,” he said.
differ on what age is the cutoff for resurfacing, somewhere between 60
and 65, largely dependent on the patient’s bone strength. Nor do all
insurers cover it.
replacements to surge
Although the Birmingham hip only gained FDA approval last May, its
arrival in the U.S. couldn’t come at a better time.
to the National Institute on Aging, 300,000 Americans have joints
replaced each year. That number is expected to grow.
million people, or 13 percent of the country’s population, are 65 and
older. More than half of them have evidence of osteoarthritis in at
least one joint, according to the Osteoarthritis Initiative, a
partnership between the National Institutes of Health and various
private agencies. By 2030, 20 percent of Americans — about 70 million
people — will have passed their 65th birthday.
Winnebago County, people ages 45 to 64 make up 25 percent of the
population. About 12 percent of residents are 65 years and older,
according to the 2005 American Community Survey.
orthopedic surgeons are also concerned about the trends. Rockford
Orthopedic Associates’ 14 physicians replace more than 700 joints
yearly and expect that number to surge dramatically.
A lot of
it has to do with the characteristics of this generation. Take Chuck
Voorhies of Rockford. The 46-year-old with a Birmingham hip implant
said he was “too young” to have any kind of hip replacement.
“I was in
denial at first. I told them they must’ve been mistaken,” the once avid
softball player said.
didn’t want to feel old either, says his wife, Debra. “He was
frustrated with everything because he still had pain. He left like he
wasn’t useful anymore,” she said.
onset of back, knee and hip problems in the past five years, Voorhies
was the type of guy who did everything to stay busy. He remodeled his
bathroom and kitchen and mowed the lawn of his one-acre property.
Meanwhile, his knees were growing stiff and he was walking with a limp.
Birmingham hip, done by Barba in December, now allows him to feel young
again. This summer, he plans to get back into golf. He already swims
five times a week.
like how he should feel instead of feeling old. He’s not in pain
anymore. He can cross his legs now and he hasn’t done that in a long
time,” Debra said.
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