Senator John Kerry Undergoes Hip Replacement

Massachusetts Senator, and former Presidential candidate John Kerry has undergone left hip replacement surgery. The surgery, performed by Dr. Dennis Burke at Massachusetts General Hospital, was actually the second hip the 66 year old Kerry has had replaced. He had his right hip replaced in August by the same physician, and said he felt it had gone so well that he would now have the second hip done. Kerry spokesman David Wade  says that Kerry had the surgery now so that  “he’d be back on his feet for the legislative period later this month.” Kerry’s joints had become arthritic and inflexible from age and athletic activities. Kerry has built a reputation as one of the most athletic members of the Senate. He is known to participate in 100-mile bike races and other strenuous physical feats.

This has been a difficult health year at the Kerry household, as we recently reported that his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, had undergone two rounds of surgery for breast cancer.

We have recently touched upon hip replacement surgery, with our stories about Little Richard, and Regis Philbin.  This time we will touch upon recovery and complications.

How Long Are Recovery and Rehabilitation?

Usually, people do not spend more than 3 to 5 days in the hospital after hip replacement surgery. Full recovery from the surgery takes about 3 to 6 months, depending on the type of surgery, the overall health of the patient, and the success of physical rehabilitation.

What Are Possible Complications of Hip Replacement Surgery?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 193,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States and more than 90 percent of these do not require revision.

New technology and advances in surgical techniques have greatly reduced the risks involved with hip replacements.

The most common problem that may arise soon after hip replacement surgery is hip dislocation. Because the artificial ball and socket are smaller than the normal ones, the ball can become dislodged from the socket if the hip is placed in certain positions. The most dangerous position usually is pulling the knees up to the chest.

The most common later complication of hip replacement surgery is an inflammatory reaction to tiny particles that gradually wear off of the artificial joint surfaces and are absorbed by the surrounding tissues. The inflammation may trigger the action of special cells that eat away some of the bone, causing the implant to loosen. To treat this complication, the doctor may use anti-inflammatory medications or recommend revision surgery (replacement of an artificial joint). Medical scientists are experimenting with new materials that last longer and cause less inflammation. Less common complications of hip replacement surgery include infection, blood clots, and occasionally an overgrowth of bone  beyond its normal edges.

For more information:



Hip Replacement Surgery

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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