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Amazing Medicine

Steve Gunn, Eugene, Oregon

Right hip resurfacing, left hip replacement

After several years of intense, debilitating pain caused by osteoarthritis in his hips, 59-year-old Steve Gunn felt defeated. He had tried dietary supplements, acupuncture and alternative strategies such as prolotherapy, but nothing helped. In addition to his severe hip pain, Steve had to wear a shoe lift because his left leg was shorter than the right due to an old high school football injury.

“Prior to my first hip surgery, walking was very painful,” explained Steve Gunn. “I had to use a cane to provide support on my right side, and I used to avoid situations that would require me to walk even short distances. It just hurt too much to move around.”

Then something amazing happened. “It was luck that I stumbled across Dr. Shah!” he said.

Steve was researching traditional hip replacement procedures online and discovered a new procedure, called hip resurfacing. He thought this procedure could ease his pain.

In contrast to traditional total hip replacement, hip resurfacing would allow an orthopedic surgeon to preserve more of Steve’s femur bone by simply shaving off the damaged cartilage and placing a cap on his femur. The cap fits into a new prosthetic hip socket that is secured into place by the surgeon. For younger patients who may outlive their implant, this procedure has many advantages. Since Steve’s bone was preserved during his first operation, more bone will be available if and when he needs another.

“In a resurfacing candidate, the main proposed benefit is that you are conserving bone,” explained Steve’s surgeon, Dr. Steven Shah. “And when the prosthesis wears out, you’ll have that bone left over for the revision.”

Dr. Shah performed the hip resurfacing in June 2009, and Steve spent three nights at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend. Although he expected to have pain upon waking up from surgery, Steve says he felt just fine and was able to get out of bed and onto his crutches that first day. “The worst part was getting poked with the IV,” Steve said.

Steve discussed having the same procedure done on his left hip. Resurfacing could be done on the left side, but Dr. Shah offered an alternative. Since the left femur was shorter than the right due to the old football injury, Dr. Shah suggested the full hip replacement procedure for that side. He measured a 13-millimeter difference in femur length and then Dr. Shah said, “We can add that much to your left side if we do the full hip replacement procedure and you can throw away that shoe lift for good.”

About six weeks after resurfacing his right hip, Steve Gunn came back to Sacred Heart at RiverBend to get his left hip replaced. Following this procedure, Steve was once again pain free, started moving about on crutches the next day, and was able to leave the hospital after a two-night stay. After six weeks of stretching exercises and taking aspirin to prevent clotting, Steve was back to a normal lifestyle, completely pain free, working, driving, and off all medication. He is now able to lead a more active lifestyle, enjoys hiking, biking and walking five miles to work and home each day.

“Without the need of the shoe lift, I can walk around barefoot now, something I haven’t really been able to do in more than 20 years. Life has certainly gotten better, and I look forward to using these hips for another 30 years!” said Steve.

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