You’re never too old for a new hip

16 April 2018

Prince Philip made the headlines and raised a few eyebrows when – at 96-years-old – he had an artificial hip fitted recently.

But 95-year-old Nottingham great-grandmother, Irene Davidson, wasn’t in the least surprised – she had had a very similar operation just six weeks ago and is already up-and-about with the aid of her walking stick.

Irene was suffering so badly from osteoarthritis she was even worried that she might have to go in a wheelchair because the pain of moving about was so great.

Determined to keep her mobility, Irene, met with Orthopaedic Consultant Mr Andrew Manktelow at Spire Nottingham Hospital in Tollerton.

He explained: “If the patient is fit and well then there is no reason why they can’t have the surgery – it is their health and not their age that should be the determining factor! We have to carry out a thorough examination to establish that their heart and lungs are up to both the operation and recovery before we decide to go ahead with surgery.

“Because of their age it may well be that the operation is more complex but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  For instance their bones might be weaker – especially in female patients who are more susceptible to osteoarthritis.

”Also, their muscles and tissue are going to be less strong than they once were and discs in the spine can degenerate, making it much less flexible than in a younger patient.”

But taking all those factors into account Irene was still sure she wanted to go ahead with the operation.

She said: “I was at a stage where I had a dull ache in my hip more-or-less all the time – whether I was doing my household chores or just lying in bed trying to get some sleep. I loved pottering about in my garden, but I was in too much pain to do that anymore.

“I knew I had to get a new hip if I was to start really enjoying life again and Mr Manktelow filled me with confidence about how the operation would go.”

Mr Manktlow said that a major concern with elderly patients was associated with the use of general anaesthetic as some patients with heart or lung problems might not be able to cope with it.

However, more and more patients are now having an epidural or local anaesthetic into the spine combined with a mild sedative.

“This is an option that may mean more older patients are suitable for such surgery as it allows them to remain in control of their own breathing throughout the operation.

“It also means they will feel less groggy afterwards and so can be back on their feet quicker. This is important as it encourages them to use their muscles and get their chest working properly – something they couldn’t do if they were confined to bed,” he said.

“In Irene’s case everything went very well and she appears to be making a very good recovery. I hope she gives other people in their nineties the courage to go through similar operations.”

As for Irene, she is already getting round the house and has been out in the garden under the supervision of family members. But now she says she is looking forward to the day when she can hop on a bus and pop into town for a little bit of shopping by herself.

And talking about Prince Philip, Irene is sure he’ll be on his feet in time for the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in late May.

“He’s always been a tough sort of character so I’m sure it won’t be long until he is up and about and enjoying life again,” she said.


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