Is It Time For Surgery?
Hip and knee replacements are being performed on younger and younger patients because technical advances and improvements in the bearing surfaces help the replaced joints last longer. Less invasive surgery makes recovery quicker. Almost half the replacement patients are now younger than 65. Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case.
When is it time to consider surgery?
The pain in your knees persists even though you’ve been religious about exercise and diet, you’ve taken over-the-counter supplements and the medications your primary care doctor recommended, and even tried hyalurate and cortisone injections. This year, you had to give up your annual ski trip and passed on the hiking trip with your grandchildren.
Maybe it’s time to consider surgery.
Like the 1,100 other people who came last year to Anne Arundel Medical Center for knee or hip replacements, you want the same quality of life you enjoyed when your knees and hips were something you took for granted.
Marshall Steele, M.D., medical director for AAMC’s Joint Replacement Center, has overseen the hospital’s internationally renowned center for the last 10 years. Several factors enabled the center to build its reputation as the destination of choice for joint replacement surgery. For instance, the high volume of surgeries performed is an indication of the broad surgical experience of its surgeons. In addition, the center has fine-tuned the patient’s experience, from pre-op education through post-surgery physical therapy. And the program is constantly improved through valuable patient feedback gleaned at the ever-popular Joint Luncheons held every month, where post-op patients share a meal and are asked to give comments to help the center improve. The numbers speak for themselves: 98 percent of patients say they have had “good” to “excellent” outcomes from joint replacement.
Grace Willias, 79, of Annapolis, calls herself the bionic woman. She’s had two knees and one hip replaced, and is planning on getting the second hip replaced next fall. So she can speak from experience when she says that she feels fortunate to have AAMC so close. “The whole team is terrific,” she said. From the classes she took before the surgery to prepare her to the physical therapy afterwards, she said she felt completely taken care of all along the way. After surgery, patients go to inpatient physical therapy together and support each other’s progress for the few days they are in the hospital. “The physical therapists are terrific and so are the other patients. We’re all doing it together,” she said. And the months of physical therapy once she returned home were worth it. “I worked hard at recovering. You just have to make up your mind. Oh, yeah and here’s a little tip: make sure you take your pain pill before your exercise!”
Dr. Steele has devoted his career to specializing in knee and hip replacements, and he takes his knowledge on the road. He travels all over the world helping other hospitals set up similar joint replacement programs. He regularly hosts hospital administrators, doctors and their staff who come to AAMC to watch firsthand how the AAMC program works.
Recently Dr. Steele retired from surgery. However, he will continue to direct the operations of the Joint Replacment Center at AAMC. He said, “There are many other experienced, well-qualified surgeons who perform hip and knee replacements at AAMC. Patients are in great hands.”