Robots and hip replacement surgery are changing lives

Updated: Nov. 21, 2017 at 8:12 PM CST
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Many patients will tell you that having a joint replaced is life-changing, and that's exactly what a patient at Merit Health Biloxi is saying about his hip replacement.

Alan Fike from Ocean Springs is getting around pretty well since his left hip replacement surgery in May. A big difference from where the 64-year-old was before the surgery.

"I couldn't walk. There were times I had to hold onto the wall and brace myself to walk. It got that bad," said Fike.

Fike was worried that the pain would keep him from doing the things he loved; like camping and hiking.

"I'm a short time away from retirement and I started thinking, wow, I have all these plans; and I'm not going to be able to do the things I wanna do," he said.

But a meeting with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joel Tucker, MD, changed all of that. MRI images showed that a hip replacement would be the solution to stop his pain and his growing disability.

Dr. Tucker says the difference it makes can be astounding.

"It's a very rewarding surgery for me to perform because of the impact on people's lives, improving their quality of life, is so amazing," Tucker said.

The MAKO robotic system provides precision and a better outcome for patients than previously possible.

"The robot helps me remove the exact amount of bone I had planned on and helps me replace the new socket in the pelvis with increased precision," Tucker said.

The MAKOplasty system provides a patient-specific 3D image of the hip based on a pre-operative CT scan, which the surgeon uses to create a pre-surgical plan for optimal implant positioning.

Fike is so pleased with his results, he's preparing to have his right hip replaced before the end of the year.

"There's no reason to live with this pain. So, I'm ready," he said.

Dr. Tucker has done hip replacements on patients ranging in age from 40 to 90, but most are in their 60's. Surgery is a last resort after other measures fail.

"We treat initially with conservative measures; anti-inflammatories, lifestyle changes for weight loss, and eventually if these measures don't work we recommend hip replacement," said Tucker.

Fike says he was back to work at full speed six weeks after his last hip replacement, and it's a small price to pay to get his active life back.

"I wanna be healthy and I wanna do things with my life. I don't wanna be restricted from things I wanna do," Fike said.

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