It is always nice to see patients back on their feet after an operation. Thank you to Robbie, who is happy to share the story of his custom hip replacement with consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Zameer Shah at BMI Blackheath Hospital in South East London.
Robbie, an electrician, is one of those 20% of people in the UK who have a hip shape which differs from the normal diagrams you see in textbooks. In simple terms, his hip is twisted which causes his foot to bend in and one leg is shorter than the other. Over time, this let to him getting arthritis which caused him pain. As a younger patient who is also self-employed, it was preventing him from carrying out even the day-to-day basics as well as his normal gym activities.
The only option for him was a custom hip replacement as regular ‘off-the-shelf’ replacement hips were just the wrong size and shape for his body. Mr Shah has a good way of explaining it; regular hip replacements come in standard sizes like off-the-rack clothing – eg size 12, 14, 15 and so on – and you pick the best fit. However, having a custom hip replacement is like going to a tailor who measures you and designs a new suit which fits you perfectly.
Robbie told us that his pain started getting really bad in February this year. “It was just bone on bone as the cartilage had worn away.” he told us. I’m an electrician so do a lot of bending and going up and down steps. I also do a lot of circuit training and spin [group exercise bike] classes and I think that over a period of time the impact classes took their toll on the hip as well.
“I know my body pretty well and knew something was up, and I didn’t need to be a surgeon to see on the x-ray what I needed to do. If it stayed as it was it would have got worse. I was sick of it!”
Although it took him a few months to bite the bullet and seek help, Robbie was able to be booked in for surgery pretty much straight away. Being self-employed, it was important for him to be able to have his operation quickly and return to work as soon as possible. Fortunately, he had health insurance through Bupa, which paid for the higher cost of the joint he needed.
Robbie had a CT scan here at BMI Blackheath Hospital, to measure the shape and position of the thigh bone (femur) and how the joint moved. The scans were then used to generate a 3D template using Symbios HipPLAN® software and analysed by Mr Shah and a specialist engineer to create a new hip that was exactly right for Robbie.
Robbie had his operation in the morning and was out of bed in the afternoon walking up and down the corridor with a zimmer frame initially, then up and down the stairs. “It was a fantastic feeling.” he said.
Because the replacement hip was tailor-made the operation took less time than a regular replacement hip and Robbie is more likely to get back to doing exactly what he was doing before he needed a new hip. As well as getting back to work comfortably, he is also looking to re-start his gym and spin classes at his local MyTimeActive gyms in Bromley, Orpington and Beckenham, swimming, and even London to Brighton and London to Cambridge cycle races.
Since his operation, also thanks to his determination and sticking to his physiotherapy exercises, Robbie has gone from strength to strength.
He came back again for his physiotherapy appointment a few days after surgery and was pleased to show the physios that he can walk with just one stick.
If your own hip is not exactly textbook ‘normal’, then a custom hip might be of benefit to you. Mr Shah also says that a custom hip comes with a number of other plusses because replacing the joint with a tailor-made one is essentially replacing like for like. These include a shorter operation time, a quicker return to home (often on the same day as surgery), and a quicker and better recovery – in short, they can get you back to your normal life quickly and less likelihood it will need a revision in the future. In fact, results from the National Joint Register show that they restore the anatomy, have a better restoration of function and are four to five times less likely to need replacing than a regular hip.
28th November 2019