New hip replacement procedure gets patients walking in days


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 25 at 5:41 PM

SUN CITY, GEORGETOWN, Texas -- Research shows more than 285,000 total hip replacements are performed in the United States each year. The experience can be painful with a lengthy recovery time.

So what if there was a new, minimally invasive hip replacement procedure that promises to get patients up and walking within a day or two, instead of weeks or months? It's true, and it's all done from the inside out.

Dave Kress, 72, exchanged a few tennis volleys with friend George Price at the Sun City courts Tuesday.  

"I played on these hard courts for about 40 years," said Kress. "I finally wore some parts out." Specifically, he wore out his arthritic right hip.  

"I couldn't hardly walk," he said. "It was that bad. I would go to the grocery store, and I would get a cart just to use as a walker. It was that bad."

Kress knew his immediate future would require a hip replacement. Living in a retirement community meant he had heard all the stories.

"This place is full of people that have hips and knees replaced," said Kress.

He got plenty of opinions on the traditional forms of hip replacement, where surgeons have to detach the muscle and sometimes even a portion of the bone before a weeks-long recovery.

"If you detach muscles, and then you put them back together again, there's a period of healing that has to occur before you want to stress those tissues much," said Cliff O'Meara, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with St. David's Georgetown Hospital.

O'Meara says that healing process can take four to six weeks.

"You hear horror stories about that," said Kress. You are kind of reluctant to do any of that."

But Kress' inability to walk without excruciating pain led him to O'Meara -- one of only 10 physicians in the country offering the SUPERPATH procedure -- a new, minimally-invasive hip replacement surgery that rebuilds the hip from the inside.

"It's a little bit like the ship in the bottle," said O'Meara. "You are putting components in one piece at a time, and you're doing a construction after the pieces are in place."

Now instead of needing a walker or cane to get around for a month after surgery, Kress says he was able stand up after his recovery.  

"The next day I was walking," he said. "It's unbelievable. Years ago I probably would have ended up in a wheelchair. I can't say enough good things about this because it's put me back on the courts again."
Doctor O'Meara is the only physician in Central Texas who performs the SUPERPATH procedure.

Click here for more information on the SUPERPATH hip replacement.