by Yule Heibel on July 7, 2003

In 1980, in Vancouver, I had some pretty hoopy orthopedic surgery on my knee: arthroscopy, which today is commonplace but back then was still reserved for athletes at university medical clinics. Bingo, Vancouver had one of those at UBC, and I got in. Just luck; I’m no athlete, but it fixed the damned joint mouse that was formed in the aftermath of an injury. Parting shot of the surgeon: the inside of your kneecap looks like shredded crabmeat — with more joint mice and potential osteo-arthritis in the offing. Yuck. So I was quite interested to read about “boomeritis,” chronic osteopathic arthritis, its effects on the hips, and how Vancouver hospitals are offering an alternative to total hip replacement (THR) surgery: hip resurfacing. How cool is that? What is it? This: Resurfacing is designed to conserve bone stock, protect nerve connections and reduce the likelihood that the prosthetic joint will loosen and require repeat surgical revisions. All of these promises are suggested by nearly 10 years of experience at the Birmingham headquarters of Midland Medical Technologies, run by two maverick orthopedic surgeons, Derek McMinn and Ronan Treacy. Word of their success has spread around the world, where private and public hospitals in a dozen countries, from Australia to Sweden, are now using Midland’s techniques and metal parts. While still considered experimental, Health Canada has approved the Birmingham procedure and a few surgeons, mainly in Alberta, have started offering it as an alternative to their younger, more active patients. And now it’s available in Vancouver, too. Well, if the Medical Services Plan ever gets past the wait-list problem, perhaps “knee resurfacing” is something I can look forward to in a decade or so. Meanwhile, what to do about head resurfacing…. Should I get my hair cut, or start to grow it long again?

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