Are Anterior and SuprePATH hip replacement surgery better? They are if you want to go scuba diving in Tobago!

Are Anterior and SuprePATH hip replacement surgery better? They are if you want to go scuba diving in Tobago! 1024 683 teamhri

Is minimally invasive hip replacement surgery better? It is if you want to go scuba diving in Tobago!

Bobbi Jean’s husband wanted to plan a scuba diving trip to Tobago. Her body said no.  Arthritis began in her hip years earlier. The pain in her right hip, back, and groin became so severe she couldn’t even imagine sitting on a plane for nearly five hours to get there.


If it weren’t for her hip, the islands of Trinidad and Tobago were an excellent choice. Wedged between the coast of Venezuela and the island of Grenada, Tobago is legendary among experienced divers. Unlike Australia’s Great Barrier, the reefs of Tobago are extremely vibrant and healthy. The local Brain Coral is among the largest examples in the world. The water is teeming with marine life: the area is home to dense schools of carite, wahoo and kingfish. It’s also known for hammerhead, small nose, small tail, and black tip sharks.


The couple’s first move was to turn to the local orthopedic community for answers. Bobbi Jean and her husband call South Carolina home. They enjoy traveling out of state and even overseas for scuba trips. They also have a passion for water skiing and hiking. The look on the Carolina orthopedic surgeons’ faces when Bobbi Jean told them she wanted to ski and scuba again told her they couldn’t help.


Dislocation is one of the most feared complications of hip replacement surgery. If your new hip isn’t strong enough after the surgery the ceramic ball can dislodge out of the plastic-lined titanium socket. Traditional hip replacement surgery, as the surgeons Bobbi Jean spoke within South Carolina perform it, weakens the hip. Studies have shown it can take the hip two years to fully recover from traditional hip replacement surgery, and many people never again reach full strength. Since traditional hip replacement surgery weakens the hip, and weakness leads to dislocation, it’s not surprising that traditional hip replacement surgery is sometimes complicated by dislocation.


To reduce the risk of dislocation legacy orthopedic surgeons, recommend permanent restrictions after traditional hip replacement surgery. The restrictions are real: no crossing your legs, bringing your knee higher than your hip, picking something up off the floor when sitting, or turning your feet excessively inward. Skiing, scuba, water skiing, horseback riding, running, and moguls are all out. Permanently.


Bobbi Jean admits she isn’t as young as she used to be, but she and her husband truly love to be active together as much as they are able. They were not ready to give up water sports. She needed an alternative that would allow her to have no restrictions after the hip replacement procedure. Her husband found it for her online.


The SuperPATH minimally invasive hip replacement procedure Bobbi Jean’s husband found is muscle-sparing compared to the traditional posterior approach. It avoids having the surgeon dislocate the hip during surgery, potentially weakening it. In the SuperPATH hip replacement procedure, the ball is surgically separated from the leg bone, then removed from the socket. The hip is never actually dislocated in the traditional sense. Surgeons who favor this approach believe that the risk of dislocation after surgery is less when the procedure is done this way.


Not everyone agrees. Early studies have not shown a real benefit between the traditional and the newer minimally invasive approaches. But those studies don’t account for the fact that the patients who had minimally invasive surgery had no restrictions. That means patients who had minimally invasive replacements did whatever they wanted, and their results weren’t worse. Even when a new way of doing things has turned out much better in medicine it takes years to show it. The reported advantages of minimally invasive hip replacement surgery are listed in the following table.


Advantages of Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement Surgery using the SuperPATH or Anterior Approach:

  • Minimal or no muscles are taken apart during the procedure
  • Can be done in an ambulatory surgery center and avoids the hospital
  • No permanent restrictions
  • (Some surgeons believe) reduced risk of dislocation
  • Rapid recovery without the need for opiate medications


Bobbi Jean and her husband decided to go for it. They found a surgeon in Scottsdale Arizona who was an expert in minimally invasive hip replacement surgery. A video teleconference online with the surgeon in which they reviewed her x-rays and condition confirmed she was an excellent candidate. The only remaining obstacle was the price. Bobbi Jean and her husband pay for their healthcare without insurance. The ambulatory surgery center offered a single cash price for the whole experience, which included the anesthesiologist, surgeon, facility, and implant. The price was guaranteed. The couple was ready to go to Scottsdale.


As they walked into the ambulatory surgery center in Scottsdale Bobbi Jean wasn’t worried at all. She and her husband arrived from South Carolina early and came by to check out the facility and meet the nursing staff the day before. After consulting with the orthopedic surgeon and anesthetist on the day of surgery she was given a sedative, then taken into the operating room. She vaguely remembers sitting on the edge of the bed to have her spinal anesthetic. She doesn’t remember any part of the surgery but reports absolutely no pain. The hip replacement surgery took less than an hour.


The next thing she knew she opened her eyes in the recovery room. A half-hour later she was walking with a walker in the recovery area. A half-hour after that she walked out of the surgery center in no pain. In the hotel room that night she slept on her back. She has never had to sleep with a pillow between her knees. When she awoke the next day she was sore and decided to try the Percocet medication her surgeon prescribed. The medicine was worse than the discomfort from the surgery. She decided to rest and take Tylenol if she needed it. The pain was well controlled with Tylenol from there on out.


Bobbi Jean felt she could walk normally a day or two after the SuperPATH hip replacement surgery, but her husband insisted she uses a walker in the hotel. Better safe than sorry. A week later she saw her surgeon and was given the green light to fly home to South Carolina. Bobbi Jean’s driveway is ¼ mile. She began walking more every day. By the end of the second week, even her husband agreed she didn’t need the walker. By the end of the third week, she could walk the driveway twice without any pain or difficulty.


Four weeks after her minimally invasive hip replacement surgery Bobbi Jean climbed out of the sea off the coast of the island of Tobago. She and her husband loved diving the coral reefs. She was amazed at how strong and reliable her hip felt on the ladder of the boat, despite the weight of the SCUBA tank on her back. When they weren’t out diving the couple hiked extensively through the jungle. She considered the hiking to be the best therapy. Bobbi Jean is now six months after surgery and she and her husband have gone water skiing many times. That’s what having no restrictions means. “I may be old,” she says, “but I’m not done.” Not hardly. She and her husband are having the time of their lives.

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