New Tools, New Anesthesia, New Therapy Means Big Changes in Hip Replacement


It gets depressing when you can't do things you normally would do. I just got to the point of thinking, 'This is how it's going to be.'

-David Heuck, patient, Stanford Hospital & Clinics

Minimally invasive hip replacement surgery meant David Heuck was able to return to work six days after his surgery, and, instead of having to wait months to get back to playing golf, he was back on the course in six weeks.

The goal is to get people healed quicker so they can get back to work and get back to life.

-Matt Miller, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, Stanford Hospital & Clinics

David Heuck was back to work so quickly after his hip replacement surgery that some of his colleagues, like Shawn Smith wondered if he'd decided against the surgery.

  • Replacing the ball and socket hip joint is a relatively new surgery the first routinely successful modern procedures were performed in the 1950's and 1960's. Now, more than 300,000 hip replacements are conducted each year in the US.
  • Most hip replacement candidates are between 60 and 80 years old, but barring other health conditions, there is no weight or age limit.
  • All our joints are cushioned by cartilage; when it becomes damaged or wears away, the absence of a cushion means pain from bone on bone contact. The hip is the largest joint in the body, the primary support of our body weight.
  • The hip joint can deteriorate for many reasons; the most common is the effect of osteoarthritis, where the cartilage that cushions the movement of our bones wears away.
  • Without that cushion, every movement of a joint becomes painful, even while resting, day or night. Being overweight also puts stress on the hip joints.
  • Some sports activities may mean harder wear and tear on hip joints, and hip replacement at an earlier age.
  • The pain may be dull and aching, or sharp. A worn-out hip joint may cause lower back or knee pain, too.
  • Replacing the hip joint means putting a new covering on the socket, located in the pelvis and creating a whole new version of the ball-shaped top of the femur that fits into the socket. A metal stem is inserted about six inches deep into the femur, with a ball, usually metal, anchored to its tip to complete the mechanism.
  • Hip replacement surgery may still mean restrictions on certain kinds of movement, like jogging or high-impact sports.
  • When properly cared for, a well-positioned hip replacement can last for 20 years or more.

It's changed our quality of life, for sure.

-Janie Brooks Heuck
Video Transcript