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Finish Lines

New hip resurfacing technique keeps athlete competing

Bob Clowry tends to push himself a bit too hard.

With more than 40 marathons and 150 triathalons behind him, the 55-year-old Philadelphia resident isn’t surprised that he had to detour to a physician’s office. But doctor after doctor told him he’d have to stop exercising altogether, or that hip replacement would leave him sidelined for a long recovery period. 

Bob Clowry

It wasn’t good news for the Special Olympics swim coach and summer Beach Patrol supervisor of Wildwood Crest. 

Even if Bob could call time out on his beloved activities, he and his wife are the owners of Winnie’s LeBus Restaurant in Manayunk. He needed to be on his feet and on top of business. 

Fortunately, Bob found Andrew Star, M.D., chief of orthopaedic surgery. 

“When I met Dr. Star, I had so many diagnoses – osteoarthritis, you name it,” Bob recalls. “The reality is that I’d been running and biking myself into the ground for years. It was just coincidental that both hips began causing me major pain at about the same time. 

“Dr. Star was so straightforward,” Bob continues. “He told me about a new hip resurfacing technique that helps active people like me stay on the move.” 

Very few hospitals in the United States offer this new technique. In this innovative procedure, the end of the thigh bone (the femur) is capped with a metal covering made of strong cobalt chromium. Dr. Star fits this covering into a metal cup that sits in the hip socket. The head rotates within the cup, replicating the movement of the original hip joint. Instead of the bone-on-bone grating that patients experience with oseteoarthritic or diseased hips, the metal-on-metal provides a smooth finish that virtually eliminates pain. 

Dr. Star explains, “Hip resurfacing keeps more of the original hip bone intact. We simply plane down the damaged area before capping the femur. In this way, we can resurface the hip closer to the size and shape of the natural hip. 

“The procedure is especially beneficial for younger, highly active people who may need greater stability and range of motion,” Dr. Star continues. 

“They may be candidates for total hip replacement in the future, but this offers an alternative for these patients.” 

While not everyone is a candidate for this highly specialized surgical procedure, it was the perfect fit for Bob. 

“I had the first hip done in September 2008, and it was fantastic,” he recalls. “I was back on my feet within two days. So, I had the second one done in December of the same year. 

“You go along and you don’t realize how much pain you’re in, until it’s gone. That’s what Dr. Star did for me. He took away my pain completely. 

“It was just so easy,” he adds. “I can’t say enough about Dr. Star and his whole team, including the orthopaedic nurses. I owe my quick recovery to their clinical expertise. 

“My whole experience at Abington was terrific,” Bob says. “Best of all, I was back to riding my bike within a week. I’m back to doing all the things I love, without having to wait at all.”

For more information about the Orthopaedic and Spine Institute, call 215-481-BONE.

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