For decades, hip replacement surgery has been the only treatment for a deteriorated hip joint. Now a lasting procedure for some younger patients may replace the traditional replacements.
Bobby Castor plays on his school's golf team. But a broken hip in grade school led to a condition called avascular necrosis. Decreased blood flow caused his hip joint to die. Since the hips drive a golf swing, it hurt Castor's game. "I was just limping around the course and just kind of being in a constant state of pain for almost half the day" says Castor.
So, Castor took advantage of a new procedure developed by Duke University doctors called a free vascularized fibular graft. They take a piece of the bone from the lower leg, insert it into a hole drilled into the hip joint, and connect the blood vessels on the other end. Specialists say that removing a section of the bone from the lower leg for the graft has no negative effect, since it is not a weight-bearing bone.
"The new blood circulating causes new bone to grow. So, in effect, we're trying to bring the hip bone back alive," say doctors treating Castor.
"This is really gonna prolong my quality of life quite a bit," Castor says, and the quality of his game, since eliminating his physical handicap will help cut his golf handicap, too.
So far, the procedure has an 80-percent success rate and this procedure is currently only used for younger patients with avascular necrosis.