New Jersey Hospital introduces unique alternative to total hip replacement

New Brunswick 30 May 2006Reinforcing the hospital's leadership in orthopaedics, a Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital surgeon is one of the first doctors in the United States trained in a breakthrough hip replacement technique recently approved for use in the USA. Dr. David Harwood, an attending orthopaedic surgeon at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) and an associate professor of Surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is one of approximately 50 surgeons in the United States offering the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) System, a bone-conserving alternative to total hip replacement surgery approved May 9 by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in this country.


The Birmingham Hip's approach preserves more of the patient's natural bone structure and stability, covering the joint's surfaces with an all-metal implant that more closely resembles a tooth cap than a hip implant. Rather than replacing the entire hip joint, as in a total hip replacement, hip resurfacing simply shaves and caps a few centimeters of bone within the joint.

In use outside the United States since 1997, the Birmingham Hip's approach has been shown to reduce the post-operative risks of dislocation and inaccurate leg length. In addition, because the all-metal implant is made from tough, smooth cobalt chrome, it has the potential to last longer than traditional hip implants.

"This is one of the most exciting procedures to come along in years", stated Dr. Harwood. "I see hip resurfacing as the ideal solution for many of my young, active patients who suffer from hip pain. As my patients are getting younger and younger, and are staying physically active much later in life, I've needed an alternative to total hip replacement that accommodates their age and lifestyle. The Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System is that alternative."

The Birmingham Hip implant is intended for patients suffering from hip pain due to osteoarthritis, dysplasia or avascular necrosis, and for whom total hip replacement may not be appropriate due to their increased level of physical activity. For this reason, most surgeons feel it will be ideal for patients under age 60 who live active lifestyles.

Dr. David Harwood specializes in reconstructive surgery of the hip and knee. He is a leading surgeon in computer-assisted joint replacement and has been involved in joint replacement research and total joint prosthetic design.

Supported by the intensive medical infrastructure of a Level 1 Trauma Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has a long history of excellence in orthopaedics. As the principal teaching hospital of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the hospital and its orthopaedic patients benefit from access to the latest techniques and technology, as well as the expertise of specialists recognized as leaders in the treatment of injuries and diseases of the bones, muscles and joints. The hospital's Center for Orthopaedics offers services in spine surgery, hip and knee replacement, orthopaedic trauma, sports injuries, paediatric orthopaedic surgery, physical rehabilitation, hand surgery, shoulder surgery, foot and ankle surgery, scoliosis and work injuries.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is a 600-bed academic medical centre providing state-of-the-art care across a wide range of health care services. Specialities include cardiac care from screening to heart surgery and transplantation, cancer care, emergency medicine, paediatrics and maternal-foetal medicine. The hospital has earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety.

Leslie Versweyveld

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