New surgical technology helps patients return to an active lifestyle in no time

Three months after a total right hip replacement at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, avid runner and outdoorsman Paul “Rusty” Neal embarked on a backpacking trip without any problems.

“That’s the power of the Hana Table,” says orthopedic surgeon Sridhar Durbhakula, M.D.

Shady Grove Medical Center is the first in Montgomery County to use the specially designed Hana Table, which looks more like exercise equipment than a surgical tool.

“It is the only table that allows you to drop the leg and rotate the hip at the natural interval between the muscles for an anterior [front] approach,” Dr. Durbhakula explains. “That means less cutting and less trauma.”

It also means a shorter hospital stay—two to four days, compared with three to 10 days with conventional surgery.

“Some patients can walk the night of their surgery,” Dr. Durbhakula says. “Within two weeks, many patients are back to work and driving.”

Neal, 55, of Germantown, noticed results almost immediately. “Before the surgery, my leg was at center,” he says. “I could not rotate more than five degrees. The day after the surgery, I rotated my hip and made my foot turn outward. I said to my wife, ‘Look at my foot! That doesn’t hurt!’”

A few weeks after surgery, Neal only needed his cane on long walks. Physical therapy is helping him build up muscle to keep up with the greater range of motion his new hip allows.

Comprehensive Joint Care

Neal was referred to Dr. Durbhakula after a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis revealed serious damage to his right hip.

“I was impressed with how accommodating Dr. Durbhakula was, how he worked with my wife and me as a team to decide the technique—the less-invasive, anterior approach—and the instrument [the Hana Table]. It was a very good experience,” Neal says.

It’s an experience afforded to all patients at The Joint Center at Shady Grove Medical Center. It begins with the joint replacement program— “boot camp”—which is a class before surgery to help patients understand what to expect during and after the procedure, from managing pain to putting on socks.

Certified orthopedic nurses also help with postoperative inpatient support and care plans for recovery at home.

The Hana Table is one more tool in Shady Grove Medical Center’s state-of-the-art surgical suite that enhances the latest advancements in knee and hip replacements provided in its Joint Center.

“Age is not a criterion for the Hana Table,” Dr. Durbhakula says. “If a patient needs relief from arthritis or hip pain, the anterior approach can provide that relief with a quicker recovery. I am seeing amazing results.”

Out and About

As a former marathoner, Neal says he’s making strides in his recovery.

While he is one race shy of his lifelong goal to run in five Marine Corps Marathons—“I’ve been advised it might not be wise to run that fifth”—Neal says that after years of pain, he would be happy to jog a couple of miles.

Today, Neal is using his experience to create a nonprofit organization to make the outdoors accessible to everyone. He has already worked with a wheelchair manufacturer to develop an outdoor wheelchair that the U.S. Forest Service approved for use in all national parks.

“I am a camper, fisher, outdoorsman. It was difficult for me when I lost mobility in my leg,” Neal says. So when he retires, he will move forward with his plans “to take people with less mobility camping, to allow them to enjoy the great outdoors.”

Something to Cheer About

A grandmother gets the joint replacement she needs to stay in step with her granddaughters

Elaine Wolf’s knee replacement surgery at Washington Adventist Hospital gave her the freedom to keep up with her soccer-playing granddaughters.

Elaine Wolf’s knee replacement surgery at Washington Adventist Hospital gave her the freedom to keep up with her soccer-playing granddaughters.

After more than five years of constant pain in her right knee, Elaine Wolf decided it was time to consider orthopedic surgery.

“My knee wasn’t responding to medication or therapy,” she says. “I was at a place where I knew if I didn’t do something, I wouldn’t be able to get around on my own much longer.”

At 68, Wolf, a retired nurse who lives in Colesville, Md., wasn’t ready to give up her active life. Her love of travel and desire to volunteer factored into her decision to choose knee replacement surgery. But her greatest motivation was the desire to keep up with her two granddaughters.

“I would go to their soccer games and have to watch from the top of the hill because I couldn’t make it down to the field,” Wolf says. “I felt cheated. I wanted to cheer from the sidelines with all the other parents and grandparents.”

Needing Knee Replacement

Wolf met with Zohair Alam, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center in Takoma Park. “The patient’s motivation to be active is a very important factor I consider when deciding if surgery is the right option,” Dr. Alam says. “When I met Elaine, it was clear her knee pain was holding her back from living the life she wanted to live.”

Most orthopedic experts consider replacement the best method of handling advanced arthritis in the knee or hip. Before having joint replacement surgery at Washington Adventist Hospital, patients attend the hospital’s total joint replacement class where they meet other people considering surgery, learn what to expect during their hospital stay and gain tips for a quick recovery.

“Patients are surprised when I tell them that the day after surgery, a physical therapist will get them up and walking,” Dr. Alam says.

The majority of patients having knee replacement surgery stay in the hospital three or four days. During that time, physical and occupational therapists work with patients to create a rehabilitation program to meet their needs and get them back to health quickly.

Bright Future After Surgery

Dr. Alam performed total knee replacement surgery on Wolf in June. She was surprised how soon after surgery the arthritis pain in her knee was gone. “Dr. Alam and his team did a miraculous job,” she says. “Everyone was so encouraging every step of the way. They didn’t treat me like ‘just another knee.’ They treated me like a wife, mother and grandmother who just wanted a normal, pain-free life.”

With her new knee, Wolf feels the future is bright. “I’d love to do a walking tour of Italy, and of course there will be trips with my granddaughters and lots of soccer games.”

She’ll be the one cheering from the sidelines.