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Anterior Approach Hip Replacement Helps Tom Watson Play Historic British Open



Source: Hips For You

SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Most avid golfers who have undergone hip replacement surgery consider themselves extremely fortunate to play 18 holes again. Three months after undergoing an anterior approach hip replacement at Saint John’s Health Center, Tom Watson returned to professional golf. Six months later, the 59-year-old finished tied for the lead in regulation play of the 2009 British Open. This unprecedented performance will stand as a singular milestone in professional sports.

Just nine months before the British Open, Watson’s hip was so painful he couldn’t sleep, let alone competitively play on an 18-hole course. The winner of eight major championships, Watson had a severely limited range of motion that had adversely affected his game. After seeing Dr. Joel Matta, founder and director of Saint John’s Hip and Pelvis Institute in Santa Monica, he agreed to undergo hip replacement surgery.

“I studied a variety of surgeons and techniques. I wanted to know about complication rates, recovery time and how well the anatomy was put back together,” Watson said. “I decided on total replacement rather than hip resurfacing. Then I sought the best surgeon. After a lot of due diligence, I selected Dr. Joel Matta.”

Dr. Matta, who is recognized as an authority on anterior approach hip replacement surgery, has performed more than 1,800 primary anterior approach hip surgeries and provides training for surgeons in the United States and internationally.

The anterior approach lets the surgeon reach the hip joint from the front of the body instead of from the back or side and with a 3- to 4-inch incision. This allows the hip to be replaced without detachment of muscles from the pelvis or thigh bone (femur) during surgery. Watson concluded that the anterior approach had a number of advantages over other hip replacement techniques. His research determined the anterior approach is the least invasive, allows for faster recovery times, provides maximum range of motion and reduces risk of complications such as hip dislocation.

“I don’t know of another instance of an athlete of any age successfully competing at the top level of professional sports with an artificial joint,” said Dr. Matta. “In relation to this, Tom deserves tremendous credit for his dedication to rehabilitating his hip. From a surgeon’s standpoint, I believe that his performance demonstrates that the anterior approach has helped advance hip replacement to a new level.”

Dr. Matta said that the success of the surgery is enhanced by using a special table with robotic function that he developed with a surgical equipment company. The HANATM table holds and turns the patient and lower extremity precisely as needed, giving the surgeon better access and limiting soft tissue trauma.

“The special table, supine patient position and during surgery X-ray checks combine to ensure that both the position of the components and leg length will be correct, which are critical to normal hip function,” Dr. Matta said. “As surgeons, we need to assure that the muscles around the hip aren’t disturbed, the parts are fitted and oriented properly, and that the leg length is correct.”

Tom Watson agreed. “Hip rotation drives the golf swing and the anterior approach is the way to go for hip replacement surgery,” he said.

Since its founding in 1942 by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Saint John’s Health Center has been providing the patients and families of Santa Monica, West Los Angeles and ocean communities with breakthrough medicine and inspired healing. Saint John’s provides a spectrum of treatment and diagnostic services with distinguished areas of excellence in cancer care, spine, orthopedics, women’s health, cardiac care and specialized programs such as the internationally acclaimed John Wayne Cancer Institute. Saint John’s is dedicated to bringing to the community the most innovative advances in medicine and technology.