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New approach for hip replacement gets man back to golf quickly

Saturday, April 7, 2012 3:13 PM
Last updated Sunday, April 8, 2012 1:51 AM
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Four weeks after having a hip replaced Merelyn Hendricks was back playing 18 holes of golf. He shot a 73.

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Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Randall Meredith (left), assisted by RN Leighann Davidson, performs an anterior hip replacement at University Hospital.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Randall Meredith (left), assisted by RN Leighann Davidson, performs an anterior hip replacement at University Hospital.

“I’m absolutely 100 percent,” said Hendricks, 74, of McCormick, S.C.

After enduring years of pain from the degenerating hip, he was about to have it replaced by the standard approach, in which the surgeon goes in through the back or the side of the hip, when a neighbor told him about another approach that goes in through the front and is
less invasive.

Called the anterior approach, it is becoming more popular in Augusta, said Dr. Randall Meredith, of Orthopedic Associates of Augusta, who performed Hendricks’ surgery.

“As people find out about it, it is gaining popularity with people who are just more active in general,” he said.

The surgery uses a smaller incision and is a “muscle splitting approach” that goes through muscle but leaves them intact, which means the resulting hip replacement is more stable than the conventional approach, Meredith said.

The conventional precautions for hip replacements aren’t necessary for most patients as a result, he said.

“You split the muscles instead of taking the muscles off so the patients are able to get up, walk, they’re stronger right away, they’re able to walk on it right away,” Meredith said. “They get back to their activities quicker.”

Going in the front also means patients can lie on their backs during surgery, which makes it a little easier to do the procedure, Meredith said. As he worked to replace a hip recently in an operating room at University Hospital, he was able to mark his progress with X-rays, carefully checking to see whether the replacement parts were snug against the bone, eyeing the size to see if it matched up. Meredith checked the placement against the other hip to see that they were well aligned. In fact, the patient had previously had a hip replacement on the left side that might have left that side a little long, so Meredith’s goal in replacing the right hip was to even that out.

“I think we lengthened her,” he said, as he peered at the X-ray image. “That’s pretty good.”

They get the patients up and walking in the hospital with a walker, and Hendricks said he was strolling around his home a few days later without assistance.

“I never used a cane, I never used a walker,” he said. And best of all, he is back to golfing, something that had been painful to do.

“I have no pain now,” he said. And, apparently, a pretty good golf game.


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