Peninsula surgeon teaches 'jiffy hip' technique

Orthopedic surgeons on the Peninsula have carved out a specialty in the "jiffy hip." Their teaching is now helping to spread the anterior muscle-sparing procedure for hip replacement around the country — and the world.

On Monday, thanks to the matchmaking of Exactech, a Florida-based implant manufacturer, English orthopedic surgeon and researcher Philip Heaton-Adegbile observed two "jiffy hip" surgeries performed by board-certified orthopedic surgeon John Aldridge of Hampton Roads Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News.

One of the Peninsula's pioneers in the procedure, which has been used locally since 2006, Aldridge, a fellow of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, helped develop the approach and also designed the associated instruments for Exactech. "You go in through a smaller hole, so there's less tissue trauma," he said.

As a "visitation site" for the company, Aldridge is no stranger to having U.S. surgeons come to Mary Immaculate to observe his expertise. He also teaches off-site half a dozen times a year and has traveled to Spain to instruct surgeons there. However, Heaton-Adegbile was his first international visitor on site.

The five-day trip, four months in the planning, was well worth it for orthopedic surgeon Heaton-Adegbile, a researcher for Exactech who has a background in mechanical engineering. "He's a perfect gentleman, an excellent technician and a very astute surgeon," he said of Aldridge. "His techniques are in the frontiers of the best combination of treatment in orthopedic surgeries. In the U.K. there are very few centers that are doing it, and none as efficiently or personably. He's providing world-class service."

On his return, the English surgeon plans "to generate interest and show the excellent service offered patients" by the less-invasive hip replacement surgery. He'll bring it to the attention of his home hospital, Pilgrim Hospital, near Cambridge, England. Heaton-Adegbile also plans to apply for research grants to cover the purchase of a MAKOplasty robot. "It would be an asset to have. The level of data collection is impressive. It would afford patients a real scientific basis," he said.

Aldridge was the first in the region to use the MAKOplasty robot for hip replacement, which he endorses for its increased accuracy. He used it for one of the two demonstration surgeries. Research has shown that it improves the "acceptable position" of the implant, a key element in recovery and long-term function, from 47 percent to 82 percent, he said. As for the anterior approach, Aldridge estimates that he's done between 1,200 and 1,300 surgeries, including 99 percent of revisions and dysplasia, which are most often done the traditional way because of their complexity. "It never gets old to see how well the patients do," he said, noting that both Monday's patients left the hospital after 24 hours.

For his part, Heaton-Adegbile wanted U.S. surgeons to know about the option of using cemented hip replacements, which are less expensive than the non-cemented ones, and which research has shown provide the same benefits for an elderly patient. "It's just as good and costs less," he said.

He was delighted by the visit and the opportunity to collaborate. "I'm very grateful," he added.