Flossmoor Woman Walking Tall Again After Anterior Hip Replacement

Before anterior hip replacement surgery at the Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute, 66-year-old Linda Wittig of Flossmoor said she walked like Quasimodo, the fictional "hunchback of Notre Dame."

"I couldn't stand up straight anymore," the energetic educational software consultant recalls. "I just kept taking more medications to mask the pain. Sometimes we ignore things until we can't ignore them anymore."

For Linda, that time came when she realized she could no longer walk from the Midway Airport parking garage to her usual departure gate, B-25.

"I travel for my job, and that involves a lot of walking through the airport," she explained. "This past spring, I realized I couldn't walk that far anymore and had to ask for a wheelchair. It was totally humiliating."

Linda's primary care doctor referred her to board-certified orthopedic surgeon David Smith, M.D., who performs a special type of hip replacement surgery called the anterior hip. Dr. Smith was the first to bring the procedure to Ingalls – and to the South Suburbs – back in 2007. Now, surgeons on staff at Ingalls have more experience than anyone in the state in this procedure.

After meeting with Dr. Smith, Linda planned her surgery for June. By August, she was back to work and walking 100 percent on her own.

What is Anterior Hip Replacement?

Traditional hip surgeries are often referred to as posterior or lateral approaches because incisions are made in the side or back of the hip. These procedures are more extensive because they require a lengthy tento twelve-inch incision through the buttock muscles and tendons to get to the hip joint. That means more postoperative pain, and a longer recovery.

Traditional surgery also requires limited hip motion for up to eight weeks after surgery, complicating normal activities like putting on shoes, getting into a car or climbing stairs.

During the anterior approach, however, surgeons reach the hip joint from the front using a specially engineered operating table that places the pelvis in a stable position. This allows them to work between the muscles and tissues without detaching them from either the hip or thigh bones, leading to a quicker recovery and preventing hip dislocation.

Following surgery, patients are allowed to immediately bend at the hip and bear full weight when comfortable, which means a more rapid return to normal function. Other benefits include a shorter hospital stay, smaller incision and less pain.

"I'm so glad to have normalcy back in my life," she added. "I can walk to gate B-25 again."

Move again. Live again. Call IngallsExpress at 708.915.PAIN (7246) for a next day appointment with an orthopedic specialist.

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