For 10 years, I struggled with the aftermath of a corticosteroid-induced AVN episode in my left hip, leaving me with bone-on-bone severe pain and large cysts within the femoral head. I'd been an active triathlete since 1985 and had completed the Canada Ironman 6 months before a cortisone injection for poison oak led to early AVN and the total loss of cartilage in my left hip. (My right hip has remained completely healthy).
Triathlon, running, XC skiing, backpacking are all essential for my psychology and happiness, and a standard "total hip" was too depressing to think about. I dropped my research in astronomy and spent hundreds of hours learning everything at the University of California San Francisco Medical Libary about bone, cartilage, hips, hip surgery, and AVN.
Through SurfaceHippy on yahoo groups, I discovered Dr. Gross and decided his improved design of a femoral cap was my best option for returning to an active life. His design promised a much stronger bond between metal cap and bone than competing designs, and the porous ingrowth surface would provide a strong bond with my bone. This interface could even be expected to heal (with care) from minor traumas which would instead lead to ultimate failure in a cemented cap. While waiting for the availability was longer than I'd planned, I'm very happy with the results.
In my office visits and correspondence, Dr. Gross was clear, detailed, informative, non-condescending, and gave me options on how to deal with my severe osteoporosis. He was clearly excited and enthusiastic when discussing hip prostheses and design criteria. This was very telling for me. I did not want a 9-to-5 doc who would assembly-line a hip for me with old technology. While my bone quality was not strong, he felt (and I agreed) that the evidence suggested my osteoporosis was inactivity-induced, and that my bone quality would markedly improve once I could resume activity. He advised 2g/day of calcium with appropriate vitamin D.
I'm extremely grateful that he allowed me to be one of the first of the uncemented Biomet ReCap patients - in June 2007. This too was important for me - I wanted a doctor who would respect my understandings, my choices, and give me an honest appraisal of the risk/reward for my options rather than force me into a choice which might be proven in the short term, but not provide the hoped-for longevity. I was clear that I understood the uncertainties and believed this design was the best for me, and he honored my wishes.
My enthusiastic thanks to Dr. Gross and his excellent and professional staff in making my trip to South Carolina and surgery such a wonderful life-changer for me!
- Rick N.
Biomet Cementless Left Hip