The Young Person's Guide to Hip Repair

The days of hip and joint surgeries being a senior citizen problem are long gone.  Increasingly, people are finding their hips are wearing out as early as their thirties and forties.

It happened to Paul Sapiro of Litchfield.

"I would hear clicks and things didn't feel right and it progressively got worse over the years to the point where I lived in constant pain," he said.

When he came to the realization he needed medical help he turned to Waterbury Hospital Surgeon Dr. John Keggi.

"There are more patients and more patients of younger ages who are candidates for surgery,” said Dr. Keggi.

Dr. Keggi told Paul he needed hip resurfacing surgery.  It's a procedure that's ideal for younger or more active patients.  

A metal cap is placed on the ball joint and a metal socket is placed in the pelvis.

"People do go back to many high impact and vigorous activities," said Dr. Keggi.

Paul is back to his old, active self.

"I can run around and hike, play paddle tennis, tennis.  I'm not very good at either, but i get to run around and play like a kid again."

What really sets Dr. Keggi apart is the way in which he performs hip resurfacing surgery.

Historically, the surgery has been performed through the posterior approach, or going through the backside, and many more muscles.

Dr. Keggi and his partner were the first in the country to go through the front or use the anterior approach. 

It only requires one muscle be cut and recovery's a lot faster.

"We developed the technique by going down to the Yale anatomy labs, doing some work there thinking about how it best would be accomplished."

The operation is not a delicate procedure.   The instruments look like tools from Home Depot.  But the results are impressive.

"People are generally leaving the hospital within two to three days walking with a cane," said Dr. Keggi.

Studies also show going through the front speeds up post surgery physical therapy.

Paul actually had both hips done: one through the back, then a week later with the anterior approach.

"He says well this time I want to go through the front and I said well I wont have matching scars," Paul joked.

This procedure and others like it are on the rise.  Currently surgeons in this country perform less than a million knee and hip replacements a year.

In the next twenty years that number is expected to triple.

The reason:

"People are more active," Dr. Keggi said.

Paul Sapiro is just happy he was able to regain the activity he once enjoyed, minus the pain.

"I live pain free and I'm pretty agile and it's great," he said.  "I want other people to know there's life after bad hips (laugh)."

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