Hip replacement surgery has come a long way and the components used may now last a lifetime, rather than just a decade or so. Now computer technology is taking the surgery to the next level. Dr. Michael Ast, an Orthopedic Surgeon at St. Mary Medical Center, is one of just a handful of surgeons across the country using OrthAlign, a handheld navigational tool used to help the doctor precisely place the new joint in an optimal position for each patient.
Because joints and bodies are unique, alignment of a hip replacement will be different patient to patient. Dr. Ast says this device, which is roughly the size of a smart phone, is used to assist the surgeon with appropriate component placement as well as confirmation that the positioning matches the pre-operative plan. He says when a new hip is in the proper position, generally there are fewer complications and the replacement may last longer and function better.
He says because of the advancements in hip replacement surgery it easier and safer for patients than in the past. They are now out of bed and walking sooner and back to their lives more quickly. But he stresses, surgery is still a risk and patients should try every other avenue to reduce pain first. He says when medications, physical therapy and activity modification fail to work, then it’s time to consider surgery.