Orthopedic Surgery

Hip replacement improves mobility, saves money

Washington, June 17 2008 (IANS)
Elderly osteoarthritis patients who undergo hip replacement show vastly improved functioning and greater control over their movements than those who don’t.

A study by Duke University Medical Centre – the largest of its kind – found that there is no age limit on the benefits conferred by hip replacement.

Besides, each total hip replacement also saves the healthcare system up to $6,000 in long-term cost of healthcare for the disabled.

An economic estimate put the yearly savings of a disability-free life at $50,000, including all related healthcare costs incurred by disabled patients such as hospital stays, nursing homes and home healthcare.

We found that total hip arthroplasty improves everyday life for patients and is as beneficial to people in the 80s or 90s as it is for someone in their 60s, said Linda George, associate director of the Duke Centre for the Study of Ageing.

While the number of surgeries conducted in the US has increased dramatically … fewer than 25 percent of patients who could benefit from the procedure elect to receive it.

Osteoarthritis of the hip is closely associated with ageing and obesity and affects 10 million Americans, causing pain, decreased mobility and increased risk of falls and fractures.

Orthopedic surgery or orthopedics (also spelled orthopaedics, see below) is the branch of surgery concerned with acute, chronic, traumatic, and overuse injuries and other disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons address most musculoskeletal ailments including arthritis, trauma and congenital deformities using both surgical and non-surgical means.

Orthopedic surgeons are physicians who have completed applied training in orthopedic surgery after the completion of medical school, either M.D. or D.O. According to the latest Occupational Outlook Handbook (2006-2007) published by the U.S. Department of Labor, between 3-4% of all practicing physicians are orthopedic surgeons.

In the United States and Canada orthopedic surgeons (also known as orthopedists) complete a minimum of 10 years of postsecondary education and clinical training. In the majority of cases this training includes obtaining an undergraduate degree (a few medical schools will admit students with as little as two years of undergraduate education), a medical degree or osteopathic degree (4 years), and then completing a five-year residency in orthopedic surgery. The five-year residency consists of one year of general surgery training followed by four years of training in orthopaedic surgery.

Many orthopedic surgeons elect to do further subspecialty training in programs known as ‘fellowships’ after completing their residency training. Fellowship training in an orthopedic subspecialty is typically one year in duration (sometimes two) and usually has a research component involved with the clinical and operative training. Examples of orthopedic subspecialty training in the US are:

  • Hand surgery
  • Shoulder and elbow surgery
  • Total joint reconstruction (arthroplasty)
  • Pediatric orthopedics
  • Foot and ankle surgery (Not to be confused with podiatry)
  • Spine surgery (Also performed by neurosurgeons)
  • Musculoskeletal oncology
  • Surgical sports medicine
  • Orthopedic trauma

These are also the nine main sub-specialty areas of orthopedic surgery.

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