New Hip Treatment For Achy Boomers

October 5, 2007
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Hip resurfacing has come to Grand Rapids, just in time for aching baby boomers.

Available in the United Kingdom for 10 years, hip resurfacing is an alternative to total hip replacement, said Dr. Thomas Malvitz, a physician with Orthopaedic Associates of Grand Rapids and chairman of Spectrum Health's Orthopaedic Department. It's particularly suited for patients in their 50s and early 60s, who may face multiple hip surgeries, because it preserves bone, he said.

Malvitz and his OAGR colleague Dr. Gregory Golloday are among five West Michigan surgeons trained in the Birmingham hip resurfacing system, made famous in the U.S. a year ago when pro cyclist Floyd Landis underwent the procedure. The federal Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in the U.S. in May 2006.

Malvitz said he was trained in England last year by Derek McMinn and Ronan Treacy, the British doctors who in 1996 devised the Birmingham system, which is sold by orthopedics device company Smith & Nephew of the United Kingdom.

"It's been used in about 50,000 patients worldwide, a great deal in Europe and Australia," Malvitz said, estimating that about 25 of the procedures have been performed at Spectrum Health's Blodgett Hospital over the past year. "The patients that are coming and requesting these procedures usually are younger, more active patients who are likely going to need another surgery in the future."

He said the procedure is suitable for about 10 to 15 percent of hip replacement patients and works well for active people. According to Smith & Nephew's Web site, it has been used not only by Landis, but by a triathlete, a marathon runner and others.

"The rehab is not any faster. It's not a mini-incision," Malvitz said. "But patients are able to get back to activities, and the upper femur is preserved."

The procedure is known as hip resurfacing because the top of the femur bone is shaped, instead of removed, to accept the metal-on-metal device. That preserves enough bone to allow a total hip replacement to be performed more easily in the future.

The most common causes of hip pain and degradation are osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, trauma, and congenital or childhood-onset conditions, Malvitz said.

Also trained in Birmingham hip resurfacing are Drs. Jon D. Hop and Joel R. Wolfe of Shoreline Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine in Holland and Dr. James L. Horton of the Hastings Orthopedic Clinic, according to the Smith & Nephew Web site.

Other manufacturers sell hip resurfacing devices as well and are in various stages of U.S. clinical trials and FDA review. In July, the FDA approved the Cormet hip resurfacing system from the U.K.'s Corin Group. It is being marketed in the U.S. exclusively by Stryker Corp. of Kalamazoo. According to a Stryker press release, physician training in the Cormet system began in the third quarter.

"Resurfacing is an important extension of our hip portfolio which focuses on providing personalized solutions based on the unique needs of a diverse patient population," Stryker Orthopaedics President Mike Mogul said. "Stryker remains dedicated to introducing technological advancements that help improve patient outcomes."     HQX

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