Hip Replacement Surgery Specialists

Jul 20, 2017 | Articles

Consult Specialists in Hip Replacement Surgery in Pretoria

The need for hip replacement surgery, and for the orthopaedic specialists who possess the necessary skills and experience to perform this type of procedure, has increased considerably in recent years. Not only is the demand for these operations increasing, but the age of the patients for whom the procedure is necessary is becoming lower. There are a number of reasons why this form of intervention may prove necessary and, of these, the most common remains the condition known as osteoarthritis, in which the cartilage protecting the ends of the bones begins to break down. In their unprotected state, they begin to develop irregular surfaces, resulting in pain, swelling and reduced movement in the affected joints. Given that they bear most of our weight, the pelvic and knee joints are those most commonly affected.

Other possible causes of deterioration in these joints are injuries, especially where there has been insufficient recovery time, and secondary arthritic conditions, such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Needless to say, the aging process also contributes to a gradual reduction in joint mobility. However, there has been a growing tendency for these symptoms to appear in middle age, and in some cases, even earlier. This trend has been linked to the rise in obesity and the additional strain on joints resulting from the need to support the extra weight. In turn, the demand for knee and hip replacement surgery is creating a need for more specialists in this field.

Generally, surgical intervention is reserved for those who have failed to gain any significant pain relief or improvement in their mobility from less invasive treatments, such as steroid injections and physiotherapy. In such cases, the symptoms begin to interfere with one’s quality of life, disturbing sleep, making many simple tasks difficult, if not impossible, and often leading to severe depression.

The first attempt by a surgeon to provide lasting relief dates back to the late 19th century, when a German clinician named Glück replaced the head of a femur with an ivory prosthesis attached using a combination of plaster of Paris, glue and nickel-plated screws. In practice, ivory proved insufficiently durable for the task, and only in 1940, when an American surgeon called Austin Moore implanted the first metal prosthesis made from an alloy of cobalt and chromium, did hip replacement surgery become a feasible option for the orthopaedic specialist.

Continuing research has led to many refinements, both to the design and composition of the available types of prostheses, and to the surgical techniques for their implantation. The former have become more durable with the introduction of new materials, including stainless steel, titanium, ceramics and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). In turn, there has been a great deal of progress in developing surgical techniques that are significantly less invasive than in the past.

Advanced materials and improved procedures have, of course, made hip replacement surgery both safer and more effective. However, only in the hands of skilled specialists, with experienced support staff and access to well-equipped OR facilities, does it become practical. One such widely-acclaimed facility with an exceptional surgical team in South Africa is a Pretoria-based consultancy directed by Dr Jan De Vos which has grown to become a referral centre for both local and international patients.