Total Hip Replacement: Karen Dodson

At a fitness center in Clayton, Robert Barrack, MD, takes spinning classes several times a week. Barrack, a Washington University orthopedic surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital who specializes in joint reconstruction and replacement, says while the classes keep him fit, they also are a unique opportunity to see how well some of his most active patients are doing. Three patients who underwent hip replacement surgery are in his spinning classes.

“It’s an interesting twist that we all go to the same place and are into cycling for fitness training,” Dr. Barrack says. “I not only get the gratification of seeing how well my work is holding up, I also get my competitive side going to make sure I can keep up with my own patients.”

Two patients had their hips resurfaced. The third, Karen Dodson, had total hip replacement on her left side. Dodson, the manager of professional development and academic publishing services for Washington University School of Medicine, says she now feels like the “Bionic Woman,” able to hike across Patagonia, Argentina, where she is developing a side travel business.

“It’s such a beautiful country,” says Dodson, who first traveled to Patagonia on a fly-fishing expedition and continues to go back several times each year. “Since my surgery, I’ve trekked up steep, icy glaciers, gone horseback riding and stood at the front of a rocking boat to fish. My new hip handled it without any trouble.”

Dodson was a competitive figure skater in her teens. She believes several falls, along with the athletic jumps and spins she did while competing, may have led to later hip problems. She was competing in a triathalon in 2012 when her hip locked up while running. “I couldn’t run or even walk without pain,” she says.

She turned to Dr. Barrack who diagnosed her with advanced arthritis in her hip. “It was the classic ‘bone on bone” where there should have been ¼” or thicker layer of cartilage to cushion her joints,” Barrack says.

As with all of his patients, he listened closely to Dodson’s expectations post-surgery. “I wanted to keep biking, hiking, fishing, skating, all of these things,” she says. “Dr. Barrack understood that exactly.”

Barrack chose a hip replacement system that incorporated the latest technological design features, including an uncemented hydroxyapatite-coated stem with an optimized geometry, a cementless highly porous shell, a delta ceramic head, and a liner made of a strong, wear-resistant material called highly cross-linked polyethylene. A robust physical therapy schedule pre- and post-surgery got Dodson back to Argentina and to her local spinning and weight training classes.

Today she not only cycles, she still can do a graceful spin on the ice. Watching Barrack cycle at the fitness center, Dodson adds, “He told me to try the 90-minute spin class instead of the hour-long class, so I did that last week. He’s showing me, but I’m also showing him that I’m staying active, thanks to that bionic hip.”

The joint reconstruction team performs approximately 1,000 hip procedures each year. More than 90 percent of those are total hip replacements, like Dodson’s. Only about five percent of patients undergo hip resurfacing. Dr. Barrack performed the first FDA-approved hip resurfacing procedure at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 2006.

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