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Local care

UPHS - Marquette hip replacement specialist outlines procedure

Closeup front view of group of mixed age people having a light jogging at a local park on a sunny summer afternoon. There are two seniors and three mid 20's people.

MARQUETTE — Dr. Keith Connolly, MD, wants potential orthopedics patients to know he’s a native Yooper who returned to the region so people don’t have to leave the area to have the procedure that’s part of his specialty: anterior hip replacement.

“I want people here to know I came back to practice in the Upper Peninsula with the newest techniques in hip and knee replacement so patients can receive the most advanced surgery right here in the U.P.,” Dr. Connolly said.

The type of hip replacement he does usually sees a quick recovery, depending on the patient’s pre-surgery health.

Candidates for the anterior hip replacement, Dr. Connolly said, are anyone for whom non-operative treatment for hip arthritis has failed to provide relief.

“Hip replacement is those patients who have gone through medication management, physical therapy or injections but still have persistent pain or aren’t satisfied with functional level of their hip.”

“Surgical treatment, which is hip replacement, is the next option in managing hip arthritis.” Dr. Connolly said.

Patients may have one hip or both replaced.

“If and when surgery is the right option is individualized. Patients often ask me if they need a hip replacement and my role is to help determine if their symptoms would be improved with surgical treatment, but it’s a quality of life decision, not anything a patient should be told they need to have done. The extent of the arthritis, what we see on x-rays, is much less important than what I hear when the patient tells me about how this impacts their daily activities and what has or hasn’t worked with other treatments. Typically, both hips don’t reach this point at the same time.

Hip replacement candidates are most commonly between the ages of 50 and 75.

“But there’s not an age cutoff,” he said. “Most patients I see are over age 50, but I do have patients even in their late 30s and 40s with severe arthritis or other hip pathology who are candidates for the procedure. With the materials we use today, the implants last much longer than what was used in the past and there’s a low likelihood of needing another surgery down the road. There’s also not an age that is too old, but it depends on each patient’s overall health, and most of us don’t get healthier as we age. Often, patients who are a candidate will want to consider having a procedure done while they’re still healthy and the increased mobility of their joint can be of benefit to them.”

The procedure is muscle sparing and minimally invasive.

“This can be done as an outpatient procedure. In some cases, the patient will spend one night in the hospital,” Dr. Connolly said. As for post-operative care:

“It’s variable. Much depends on the patient’s pre-operative health and say, if they’re going back to work, what their job is,” he said. “But with the anterior approach to hip replacement, the patient is usually up and walking immediately after surgery. They’re usually pretty comfortable within the first week or two. And they are back to their day-to-day activities quickly, too.”

Some people are back to work in as little as a week. Those who have labor-intensive jobs like construction may expect to need a month or more after the procedure.

“For follow-up, some patients will do outpatient physical therapy, but mostly I encourage patients just to walk. The stiffness and weakness that accompanies arthritis takes time to return after replacing the hip, but it doesn’t require a lot of additional therapy,” Dr. Connolly said.

Hip and knee replacements have become quite common procedures. Dr. Connolly estimates he does about 10-15 hip replacements and about 20-25 knee replacements per month.

“Joint replacements have increased dramatically in recent decades,” he said. “Currently, about 1 in 10 adults will have a hip or knee replacement in their lifetime. Many patients today are not satisfied with the functional limitations imposed by their joints and want to stay active and the recovery from surgery has improved tremendously. It’s one of the most effective quality of life improving procedures in all of medicine.”

Dr. Connolly received specialized training in the procedure.

“That was extremely beneficial,” he said. “Being focused in a specialty area allows a surgeon to get very proficient with his techniques and having trained at one of the top programs in the country allowed me to carry an incredible amount of experience into my practice.”

Primary doctors refer patients to Dr. Connolly or some come to him directly for a consultation.

Dr. Connolly can be reached at 906-225-1321.

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