Mater Private: Taking pain out of hip rheumatoid arthritis

Karuppiah Mahalingam, known by his friends, colleagues and patients as Maha, is an orthopaedic surgeon who works exclusively at Mater Private Hospital, Cork.

IN EXPERT HANDS: Karuppiah Mahalingam, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Mater Private, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane

Maha studied medicine in India, however, following further studies for his fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, he moved to Cork, where has worked for many years. 

He, his wife Mary and children live in Kinsale.

Maha has a career-long mission to be a part of the revolution in orthopaedic surgical techniques. 

One such technique is the anterior approach or ‘bikini hip’ surgical hip-joint replacement for rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is relatively common, for example in Britain 20,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, 75% are female and seven in 10 sufferers are of working age.

Maha says that symptoms and signs of the condition include joint pain, stiffness and swelling which can be very debilitating and lead to reductions in quality of life and many lost days at work.

The most important decision a person can take is to seek expert opinion early from their family doctor who will guide them through the treatments options including medication and exercise regimes which improve quality of life and slow any progression of the disease.

Maha says it’s vital to seek treatment early. However, some will require surgery, which will include replacement of the hip joint.

The surgery involves removal of the diseased part of the hip joint which is located at the upper end of the thigh bone (femur) where it meets the pelvis. 

The ‘ball-shaped’ end of the femur (femoral head) fits into a socket (the acetabulum) in the pelvis to allow a full range of motion.

During ‘bikini’ hip replacement, which lasts one to two hours, the surgeon makes an incision over the front of the hip without cutting through the muscles (as would happen in traditional techniques) and removes the diseased bone tissue and cartilage from the hip joint, while leaving the healthy parts of the joint intact. 

The surgeon then replaces the head of the femur and acetabulum with new, artificial parts. The new hip is made of materials that allow for a smooth seamless gliding motion of the joint.

With the anterior ‘bikini’ approach patients are up out of bed on the same or next day, home within three days and getting back to normal very quickly.

Maha says that those with rheumatoid disease of the hip joint should not suffer in silence. Instead, they need to visit their family doctor and begin treatment early.

If the conservative treatments don’t work or the disease of the hip is such that it is having a negative impact on quality of life then ask your doctor to refer you to a surgeon and see if hip replacement is an option.

The improvements in activities of daily living can only have a positive influence on your mood, relationships and work life. Waiting lists are long in public hospitals so it is important to start the process early and if you can get an expert opinion.

After surgery in the Mater Private, a physiotherapist and arthroplasty nurse (a nurse specialising in joint replacement) will deliver an enhanced recovery programme to ensure all goes well post-surgery.

Telephone 021-601 3272

www.materprivate.ie/cork



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