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Recovering Rapidly after Hip Replacement

Posted on: 11/30/1999
Imagine having your hip replaced and walking on that leg the same day as surgery. Now imagine going home the same day! That's the subject of this study. Doctors at Rush Medical College tracked the results of 100 patients who had a total hip replacement (THR).

All operations were done using a minimally invasive approach. This means only two small incisions are made. No muscles or tendons were cut. The hip joint was removed in segments, rather than all in one piece. The joint capsule is cut open but not taken out. A special X-ray called fluoroscopy is used to see what size and shape implant should be used.

Everyone was seen for up to three months after the operation. A rapid rehab program was followed. Results were measured by how soon patients left the hospital, stopped using crutches, and started driving again. Other measures included use of pain medication, number of days to return to work, and how soon they could walk 1/2 mile.

All patients left the hospital within 23 hours of the operation. Physical therapy was started on the day of surgery except for a few patients with nausea. Everyone went home and continued physical therapy. Most patients got rid of their crutches within six days. Patients with jobs went back to work on average in eight days. Not everyone could or wanted to walk 1/2 mile. Those who did (87 percent) could do so by day 16.

During the three months follow-up, no one had to go back into the hospital. There were no infections, dislocations, or second operations. Recovery was rapid with the advanced rehab program.

The authors report that recovery was much faster than ever before at their clinic. They conclude minimally invasive THR is safe. Combined with a rapid rehab program, patients recover much faster.

Richard A. Berger, MD, et al. Rapid Rehabilitation and Recovery with Minimally Invasive Total Hip Arthroplasty. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. December 2004. Vol. 429. Pp. 239-247.

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