At age 6, hip pain became a part of Mike Tracy’s life. At age 51, robotic-assisted hip replacement surgery put him back in control.
For 40 years, Mike Tracy has relied on surfing as a spiritual, calming influence in his life, but most days even surfing couldn’t calm the persistent pain in his hips.
In fact, Mike can barely remember a time when he wasn’t in pain. At age 6, he was diagnosed with Perthes disease, a rare childhood condition that causes decreased blood supply to the head of the thigh bone. Without adequate blood for nourishment, bone cells soften, break apart and die. In most children, the condition resolves over time, but for Mike the deterioration continued into adulthood.
“When I got out of school, I started working as a roofer. At first, the pain was tolerable, but after about five years, it became so intense that I had to quit my job,” recalls Mike.
In his mid-20s, Mike began seeking a permanent solution. He was open to total hip replacement surgery, but physicians advised strongly against it; he was too young and, at that time, prosthetic joints had a limited life.
GIANT LEAP FOWARD
Twenty years later, Mike underwent surgery to replace his damaged right hip with a prosthetic. The surgery was successful and Mike was pain-free until a back injury in 2014. The familiar pain suddenly returned – this time in his left hip.
After X-rays, Philip S. Yuan, M.D., orthopedic spine surgeon, Long Beach Medical Center, discovered that the root cause of Mike’s pain was not a result of the back injury. His extreme discomfort was actually radiating from his left hip joint, which showed signs of severe arthritis and a complete absence of cartilage. Every movement meant bone was rubbing on bone.
Dr. Yuan referred Mike to his colleague John V. Tiberi, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, Long Beach Medical Center. With advanced fellowship training in hip and knee replacement and hip arthroscopy, Dr. Tiberi recommended surgery to replace Mike’s left hip. But times had changed – it wasn’t traditional surgery anymore. Robotic-assisted arms and 3-D models were now available so patients can have less pain and faster recoveries.
MODERN DAY MEDICINE
The MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Long Beach Medical Center is one of the first centers in the region to offer MAKOplasty® as an alternative to traditional joint replacement surgery. Current indications include total hip replacement and partial knee replacement.
“MAKOplasty® offers a new level of precision that improves function and mobility,” says Dr. Tiberi. “And implants have come a long way, so patients like Mike can reliably expect greater longevity of their joints. It’s a great treatment option for patients at any age who want to stay active.”
Dr. Tiberi explained to Mike that MAKOplasty® dramatically differed from his traditional surgical experience two decades ago. Instead of a 2-D X-ray, a computed tomography, or CT, scan provides the surgeon a detailed, 3-D view of the joint in order to develop a customized surgical blueprint for optimal joint placement.
“Using real-time information and images of the hip, physicians can adjust the tension on the joint’s tendons and ligaments, and immediately compare it to the original surgical map we developed. We can make any needed changes on the spot – that wasn’t the case with traditional joint replacement surgery,” says Dr. Tiberi. “The physician is in control, and the technology makes it precise. It’s a winning combination.”
“MAKOplasty® is a significant addition to the Joint Replacement Center,” says Dr. Tiberi. “And it is an excellent program; across the board, the outcomes are better than the national average.”
HANGING 10 AGAIN
Mike is in awe of how quickly he’s regained his mobility and independence.
“With my first hip replacement, I was in the hospital for four days. This round, I was discharged the next day and was off all my pain medications within six weeks,” remembers Mike.
At his two-week post-operative visit, he walked into Dr. Tiberi’s office without assistance and, just a month-and-a-half after that, he started a new job that was more physically demanding than any he’d had in the past. Perhaps most important to Mike, was the opportunity to return to surfing.
“Four months after surgery,” Mike says, “I was back on my board. That surgery was one of the best things I ever did. I’m 51 and I feel like I can really enjoy life.”
Dr. Tiberi adds, “The MAKOplasty® Total Hip Arthroplasty has so many advantages for the surgeon, but they all add up to one thing: a superior outcome for the patient.”
For more information, please call (562) 933-4014 or visit MemorialCare.org/LBJointReplacement.
- Orthopedic Surgery, Spine Surgery
- Orthopedic Surgery