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August 31, 2010 > Do You Suffer From Hip Pain?

Do You Suffer From Hip Pain?

Minimally Invasive Replacement Surgery May Help

If you are suffering from chronic hip pain due to arthritis or traumatic injury and have tried other treatments such as medications and physical therapy with no improvement, you might want to investigate whether or not hip replacement surgery may be an option for you.

"Not everyone who has hip pain is a candidate for hip replacement surgery," says Dr. Alexander Sah, an orthopedic surgeon at Washington Hospital's Center for Joint Replacement. "If your chronic hip pain is limiting your daily activities like walking and climbing stairs or is keeping you awake at night, though, you may want to consider hip replacement surgery."

With hip replacement surgery, the surgeon removes the damaged joint surfaces and replaces them with an artificial implant. Years ago, that surgery entailed an extensive incision that could exceed 12 inches, a lengthy hospital stay and months of rehabilitation. Today, though, the minimally invasive hip replacement surgery techniques introduced nine years ago at the Center for Joint Replacement dramatically reduce the amount of post-operative pain and significantly shorten the hospital stay and recovery period.

"In minimally invasive hip replacement surgery, we make a much smaller incision - between two and three inches," says Dr. John Dearborn, Medical Director of the Center for Joint Replacement. "We perform the procedure using specialized instruments that allow us to prepare the bone surfaces and insert the implant without cutting across any muscles. Because trauma to the muscles is dramatically curtailed, patients typically are able to leave the hospital the next day."

To help people in the community learn more about minimally invasive hip surgery, Dr. Dearborn and Dr. Sah will be conducting a free Health & Wellness seminar on Tuesday, September 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D., Auditoriums in the Washington West Building at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. Register online at

In addition to describing the basic surgical techniques involved in minimally invasive hip replacement surgery, Dr. Dearborn and Dr. Sah will discuss the pros and cons of various types of implants, such as metal-on-metal bearings, ceramic hip replacements and cross-linked polyethylene bearings.

"There has been a lot of development lately in new types of hip replacement surfaces, and some of the orthopedic supply companies are advertising directly to consumers, trying to make people believe that one implant is better than others," says Dr. Sah. "All of the implants have their pros and cons. We believe, though, that the 'gold standard' for hip replacements is a metal ball with a highly cross-linked polyethylene surface. The goal is to minimize wear, so that the patient can expect the hip replacement to last. With metal-on-metal bearings, patients can end up with cobalt ions in their blood streams. Ceramic implants may fracture more easily."

"Some advertisers are claiming that an anterior surgical approach to hip replacement is better than other approaches," says Dr. Dearborn. "But that's just marketing - it is not necessarily true in all cases. We also will discuss the pros and cons of computer-assisted surgery. We want to de-mystify minimally invasive hip replacement surgery and give people at the seminar plenty of time to ask questions."

Dr. Dearborn - one of the surgeons who pioneered minimally invasive hip replacement surgery - urges people who are considering the surgery to choose their surgeon carefully.

"The quality of the surgery outcome depends largely on the surgeon's experience and skills," Dr. Dearborn says. "Surgeons who do only one hip replacement per month may not necessarily have adequate skill with minimally invasive techniques."

"I chose this field because I wanted to make a positive impact on people's quality of life, and working with Dr. Dearborn has been a fantastic experience," says Dr. Sah who joined the Center for Joint Replacement two years ago after completing a five-year orthopedic residency and a one-year fellowship in minimally invasive surgery. "As for being at Washington Hospital, it's a 'homecoming' for me, since I was born here and my father was an ENT doctor here for 30 years."

To learn more about Washington Hospital's Center for Joint Replacement, visit or call (888) 494-7003.

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