Forrest Tindell’s hip replacement surgery began at 6:30 a.m.
By 2 p.m. that day, he was sitting up and eating Greek chicken salad for lunch at home.
“Post-surgery, I never had pain anywhere near what it was before,” he said.
Tindell’s quick turnaround following the outpatient procedure by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Fraser, a fellowship-trained hip and knee replacement specialist, at Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital is a trend that is predicted to continue. By 2030, total hip replacement surgeries are expected to increase more than 170 percent.
Many of those operations, like Tindell’s, will be on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient is released within hours.
While the idea of going home from the hospital the same day may sound scary, research has shown that getting out of bed and back to a routine is often what’s best for patients. The benefits include less pain, a quicker return to normal activities and higher patient satisfaction.
But not everyone is a candidate. The ideal traits are to be physically fit and active, in your 40s or 50s (sometimes early 60s) and be committed to a home recovery plan. Tindell, 53, a Realtor in Charlotte, North Carolina, fit the bill.
”I’m usually a gym-a-holic,” he said.
Certain medical risk factors prevent some patients from outpatient status, including heart disease, liver disease, obesity and diabetes. Those can lead to excessive bleeding and raise the risk of infection.
Fraser, of Novant Health Barron, Homesley & Valentine Orthopedic Specialists - Charlotte, said about 40 percent of the hip replacements he performs are outpatients, but “that is increasing with time.”
Tindell also benefitted from Fraser performing direct anterior hip replacement from the front, which is a less invasive muscle sparing approach that has been shown to allow patients a quicker earlier recovery that the more traditional posterior approach from the back. It’s the method under which Fraser trained and has gained in popularity in the past decade. He said the procedure usually takes 50-75 minutes, depending on the patient.
“The benefits of the direct anterior approach include a smaller incision, less muscle and soft tissue damage, a quicker functional recovery, and a low dislocation rate compared to the posterior approach,” Fraser said.
No pain, after struggling for months
A couple hours after surgery, Tindell walked up a half-flight of hospital stairs. His home physical therapy lasted less than two weeks. At the six-week checkup following his October surgery, he was cleared to resume all activities.
That ended an arduous stretch of pain for Tindell in which another medical system misdiagnosed his ailment. Tindell’s right hip began having shooting pains when he was managing a friend’s coffee shop.
He was instructed to do stretches to help his piriformis muscle, which runs from your hip to the tailbone. They told him five weeks should clear it up. Didn’t help. His problem stretched 16 months.
During that span, Tindell had two cortisone shots. Still, the stretches “were killing me,” he said. He fought through it, dug a pond at home, got married, worked and did chores around the house.
“It took me forever just to bend over and put my shoes on,” he said. “It was getting a lot worse.”
Tindell landed in Fraser’s care. An x-ray revealed a degenerated and disintegrating hip, held together by shards of bone after months of grinding against each other.
“Dr. Fraser has a wonderful bedside manner,” Tindell said. “He said ‘We’re going to fix this and you’re going to be back to you.’ He and his staff always made me feel cared for.”
Tindell is thrilled to resume volunteer work at First Christian Church’s soup kitchen. After months of searing pain, he bounces around his house with ease.
“It’s almost like looking back at a different life,” he said.