Connie Hansen

From back to front – new approach to hip replacement surgery

Many people suffering with hip pain and limited hip movement now have a new surgical option at Flagstaff Medical Center – Anterior Hip Replacement.

Hip surgery routinely is performed from the posterior or back side of the body with good results. The anterior procedure – which allows access to the hip from the front of the body – uses specialized surgical equipment not available at most facilities. FMC invested in the unique surgical table and computer navigation equipment necessary to make anterior hip replacement an option in Northern Arizona.

Anterior hip replacement allows the surgeon to reach the joint from the front meaning the hip can be replaced without having to detach muscle from the pelvis or femur. The surgeon can work through the natural spaces between the muscles. Computer software pinpoints the placement of the new hip to the millimeter offering the surgeon enhanced control of leg length.

According to Amber Randall, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, several patients who had previous hip replacement scheduled their second hip replacement with the new procedure.

“It is miraculous how much better their recovery went with anterior hip replacement. The patient reports less pain and more mobility,” Dr. Randall said. “Patients go home in two days as opposed to the usual three days and usually with less pain.”

Back on the trails
At 78 years old, Connie Hansen lives independently and walks about 10 miles a week. But when her hip began to lock up from a lack of cartilage, it caused enormous pain. She called Dr. Randall, and in February, Connie had anterior hip replacement surgery at FMC’s Spine and Joint Surgery Center. Within a day she was up and walking; within a few weeks, she returned to a busy volunteer job and started walking outside around her home.

“I was up and walking the next day,” Connie said. “When I walked down the hall, people called out, ‘Look at her walking; she’s doing great!’”

Pre- and post-surgical education classes prepared Connie for her upcoming surgery and for returning home. In the Peak Performance Room, patients who have knee or hip replacement surgery exercise together with physical therapists and patients encourage one another to keep moving. Friends and family members serve as “coaches” and participate in the recovery process at the hospital and at home.

“Just six weeks after surgery, Dr. Randall gave me the go ahead to get back to my life and my walking,” Connie said. “I encourage people who have problems with their hips to seek a doctor and find out what the possibilities are.”