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Innovative Hip Replacement Fuels Return to Active Life

Peter DeLorey has been in many golf tournaments over the years but a two-day event this spring was particularly special.  It was the first one he has done with his son, and it’s something he couldn’t have done at all a year ago.

Until recently, intensive pain limited his golf game and his work schedule. But with a hip replacement from Tufts Medical Center using an innovative technique, the 57 year old is back to improving his handicap and working at full capacity on his business.

“There were things I just couldn’t do before, and now I can move around like I used to, it’s been an incredible experience,” says Peter, who lives in Jamaica Plain.

Sidelined by Pain

Before the February surgery, intensive pain severely limited Peter. Although he could get in a single round of golf, two days in a row for a tournament was too much. Even his job was difficult. He works in construction and develops large solar fields and by noon was confined to the office.

The pain in his leg and back started a few years ago. Peter chalked it up to wear and tear on his body from playing college hockey. As the pain grew worse, a friend recommended the Pain Management Center at Tufts Medical Center.

Search for a Solution

The Pain Management Center takes a team approach to diagnose and treat patients with collaboration from specialists in orthopedics, neurosurgery, oncology and rheumatology.

Doctors there quickly began a thorough search for the cause of Peter’s pain along with a solution.

“I was impressed with how attentive everyone was,” he says. “They were very thorough and very thoughtful. They didn’t dismiss what I was saying. They paid attention and they kept looking for solutions.”

Initially, doctors tried cortisone shots. The therapy worked for a few days, but then the pain returned. It became clear that more extensive intervention was necessary.

Although the pain was in Peter’s back and leg, his doctor suspected the cause was actually arthritis in his hip. He was referred to Eric Smith, MD, who is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top orthopedic surgeons in the country.

Innovative Surgical Technique to End Pain

Extensive testing confirmed that the pain was due to arthritis and determined that a hip replacement was the best alternative.

Dr. Smith used an innovative technique called an anterior hip replacement. With this technique, the hip is replaced from the front rather than from behind. This allows the surgeon to replace the hip without having to split a muscle.

Tufts Medical Center has a special operating table just for this surgery. But being able to provide this technique involves more than having the right equipment.

“There are not a lot of places offering this technique because it takes so much additional training and practice,” Dr. Smith says. “I went through that because I felt it was important to have this option available to our patients.”

The recovery is faster and patients don’t have to spend time extra time learning techniques to avoid complications as they do with a hip replaced using the conventional technique, he explains.

Back in the Action

Peter was in the hospital for just two days.

“Everyone was great,” he says. “They were so nice, they made me feel comfortable and at home.”

The total recovery took less time than Peter expected, and now he is back to full speed.

“It has really meant a lot to me,” Peter says. “It was frustrating to be so confined before. This has made an incredible difference. The pain is gone, and I am back to doing what I enjoy.”

A patient at the Cancer Center at Tufts Medical Center.

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