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When Kathleen Martin got out of bed and walked down the hall in recovery right after her March 2017 total hip replacement surgery, she stunned everyone -- even her nurses, who typically care for a hip replacement patient for 2 or 3 days in the hospital after surgery.
Kathleen Martin walking down the hall in recovery right after her total hip replacement surgery.
“The minute they got me up, they saw that I could move and walk,” Martin says. “They started me with a walker, but saw I was carrying it with me. I said, ‘I’m good, I’m good.’”
Her rapid recovery wasn’t as shocking for her doctor, Jeffrey Meisles, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopedic Specialists and Edward-Elmhurst Health. He had agreed to perform Martin’s hip replacement surgery as an outpatient procedure, a first for Elmhurst Hospital.
“She’s in good health and she’s 56 years old,” Meisles says, two factors that made it possible for the outpatient surgery and Martin’s quick recovery.
“Her operation wasn’t any different than any of the other minimally-invasive hip replacements I do,” he says. “Her recovery was accelerated because of a new minimally-invasive surgical technique combined with the fact that she’s relatively healthy.”
For several years before her surgery, Martin had tried to maintain her active lifestyle while coping with arthritis pain, using medication to manage her symptoms. When the medication stopped working as well as it had, an X-ray confirmed it was time for a hip replacement.
“I had to tip a bike to get on it,” Martin says. “My workouts were impacted, I couldn’t run anymore. Vacations were my biggest thing—we went rock climbing in Arizona a year before my procedure. I was determined to get to the top, but it was painful. It was impairing my lifestyle.”
A friend recommended Martin meet Dr. Meisles because of his minimally-invasive anterior approach to hip replacement, Martin said.
During a total hip replacement, a surgeon removes the diseased parts of the hip joint and replaces them with new parts usually made of metal and hard plastic. This artificial joint, called the prosthesis, helps ease pain and improve function.
The anterior approach is a newer technique in hip replacement where the surgeon works between a patient’s muscles instead of cutting or detaching them.
“We do the surgery with the patient lying on his or her back rather than lying on the side, which allows us to easily take X-rays during the procedure so we can confirm the implants are correctly positioned,” Meisles says. “The anterior approach is inherently more stable, so there are no restrictions on a patient’s range of motion after surgery.”
When Martin met with Dr. Meisles to discuss her hip surgery, she told him she wanted to go home the same day as her procedure.
“I told her that she would be an ideal candidate for it because she was in good condition physically, highly motivated and had no other conditions,” Meisles says. “This is the leading edge of a new trend, to do minimally-invasive joint replacement in appropriate candidates as an outpatient. People recover better at home. They’re more comfortable at home.”
Martin says her recovery could not have been easier.
“I had zero pain,” she says, adding that she gradually returned to her exercise routines, modifying some exercises to give her new hip time to heal. “I can get on my bike now normally – I’m like, oh my gosh, now when I stand up, I can just walk. There’s no initial pain. You forget the pain you used to feel.”
A friend loaned her a walker to use at home during recovery – “It never came out of the garage,” Martin says.
“Before surgery, anytime I wanted to roll over at night I’d literally have to think about how to roll over because the pain was difficult,” Martin says. “I have no pain in sleeping now.
“I can’t say enough about Dr. Meisles. He’s amazing. He’s pleasant, informative,” Martin says. “He’s very good. I’ve recommended him to so many people.”
Meisles says he tells patients that, if their symptoms are tolerable, they should manage them with a simple anti-inflammatory medication or periodic cortisone.
But when it gets to the point where the pain is interfering with their quality of life—if they’re in pain all the time or not doing things they’d want to do, like avoiding their grandchildren’s baseball game because they don’t want to walk across the field or step up on the bleachers, it may be time for a joint replacement, he says.
The expert surgeons at the Edward-Elmhurst Health Orthopedic Center offer procedures to resolve your hip issues and get you moving again with less pain. Learn more.
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