Craig Limoncelli of Smithtown had endured a painful right hip for five years. It got so bad that walking up his steep, 130-foot long driveway with the day’s mail became a painful experience. A technician for Mercedes Benz, Craig, 53, decided he couldn’t put off hip surgery any longer when he had difficulty lifting objects at work.
A co-worker recommended Michael Fracchia, MD, Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Mather Hospital. “I felt very comfortable with him. He showed me all the pieces (of the prosthesis) he was going to use. I made the appointment right there and then,” he said.
Cynthia Davis, 65, or Nesconset was tired of the constant pain in her left knee. “I had had everything possible done to my knee – arthroscopic surgery, a lot of injections to try to get through the pain and swelling,” she recalled. “It got to the point where my rheumatologist and orthopedist both agreed we were at the end of the rope.”
After attending an informational seminar held by Mather’s Total Joint Replacement Program, she elected to have hip replacement surgery.
Living with knee or hip pain is a reality for many people, particularly as they age. Gradually, that pain can cause them to stop participating in the things they love – biking, dancing, playing with their grandchildren, participating in sports – as well as limiting day-to-day activities such as walking and even standing.
Total replacement of the knee or hip allows those who cannot get relief from non-operative treatments to move past the pain that plagues them and reclaim their lives. A total joint replacement removes damaged cartilage and bone and replaces it with an artificial surface made of a metal alloy, ceramic, plastic or a combination of these. These prosthetics, which come in different sizes, create new smooth cushions allowing the joints to function without pain.
Craig said his hip pain was gone soon after his hip replacement operation in 2011, and he didn’t take any pain medication while at Mather for three days. Then, he went home to continue his rehabilitation. The therapist “Came to my house twice a week and I was able to walk around a week after surgery without a cane, walker, or anything,” he said. “I was driving after about two weeks.”
Four weeks after her knee surgery at Mather in 2010, Cynthia was back to her normal daily routine. “It was absolutely phenomenal. From the day I went in for pre-surgical testing, it ran like a well-oiled machine,” said Cynthia, a retired assistant to a home health agency administrator. “I went from the hospital to the TCU (Transitional Care Unit at Mather) and it was probably the best decision I ever made.”
Not surprisingly, when the time came to replace her right hip earlier this year, she again turned to Mather’s Total Joint Replacement Program. And this time she had added incentive – twin grandsons born in February who she wanted to enjoy.
According to Dr. Fracchia, “Joint pain is most often caused by osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects the cartilage lining on the ends of bones. That cartilage becomes worn, no longer allowing smooth movement inside the joint and causing a painful grinding sensation as the joint works. Pain, stiffness and loss of function are common results.”
Mather Hospital’s Total Joint Replacement Program is known for its quality of care, clinical expertise, compassionate treatment and exceptional patient service. The comprehensive program provides patients with everything they need to improve quality of life by reducing pain and increasing motion and function, removing the need for any assistive devices and allowing for a return to work, sports and the activities of daily living. Good to excellent results are achieved in about 95 percent of cases.
Mather’s experienced orthopedic staff uses state-of the-art operating suites that feature computer-navigated systems. This technology is used in minimally invasive knee replacements and ensures the highest level of precision. Minimally invasive surgery offers patients less pain, smaller scars, less bleeding, stronger muscles, earlier discharge and faster recovery than with traditional surgery.
“I had great care while I was there and the rehabilitation worked well,” said Betty Hicks, 77, of Rocky Point, who had both hips replaced within three days last March. “I have nothing but praise for the staff there.”
Betty, a retired social worker, made her decision to have hip replacement surgery in March after consulting with Mather orthopedist Richard Savino, MD, who performed the surgery. “I knew exactly what to expect, and the nursing care there was great,” she said.
Mather’s Total Joint Replacement Program includes a Post Anesthesia Care Unit, a dedicated Orthopedic Nursing Unit and a personalized program of physical therapy. Based on the physician’s and physical therapist’s recommendations, and insurance authorization, patients may be discharged to acute rehabilitation, to sub-acute rehabilitation in a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, or home with home physical therapy or outpatient physical therapy.
With regular exercise as a critical component of home care, patients are usually able to resume most normal activities of daily living within three to six weeks following surgery.
Of course, all surgery carries some risk of complications. With total joint replacement surgery, that risk is 1 to 3 percent. Two serious complications that can occur are blood clots and infection. Mather’s Total Joint Replacement Program uses blood thinners and antibiotics to reduce the risk of those complications.
“Antibiotics, which are given to all orthopedic patients at the time of their surgery, are continued post-operatively and are just one of the steps taken at Mather to reduce the risk of infection,” Dr. Fracchia said. “Mather uses positive pressure operating rooms with ultra-clean air. The physicians and surgical teams operate inside ‘space suits’. Blood work and urinalysis are checked twice before each elective joint replacement surgery. Elective joint replacement patients are asked to see their dentist prior to surgery to reduce the risk of infection.”
Mather Hospital’s commitment to patient safety has led to its recognition as a top hospital on the New York State Hospital Report Card, a listing on the Honor Roll in two individual categories by the Niagara Health Quality Coalition (NHQC) and recognition by the Long Island Health Network with a Patient Satisfaction Award. Mather Hospital also was one of only eight hospitals in New York State to be cited by The Joint Commission as a “Top Performer” for sustained excellence in key quality measures in the categories of surgery, heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.
Mather’s Total Joint Replacement Program offers free community seminars for anyone considering knee or hip replacement. Those seminars cover everything from the causes of joint pain to the actual procedures, pre- and post-operative care, rehabilitation, financial considerations and insurance eligibility. Call 476-2838 for the date and location of the next total joint replacement seminar.