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Hip and knee replacement surgery used to require lengthy recuperation times, but this has changed thanks to innovative materials, pioneering techniques and new technology. Medical advances mean that many fears about the health of aging bones are no longer realised. Patients undergoing modern orthopaedic surgery can expect a minimally invasive procedure with better prognosis than ever before.

Hip patient Monica Hills was an 85-year-old walker from Earley. She recognised that her hip pain was similar to the knee pain that she had experienced before having them both replaced, identifying the early signs of hip trauma. Although Mrs Hills’ desire to be pain-free is typical of most patients, more unusual was the keen walker’s wish to climb the Alps mere months after surgery.

Professor Ali Ghoz is a leading surgeon and consultant of trauma and orthopaedics. As a specialist in knee and hip surgery, Mr Ghoz assessed Mrs Hills’ condition before choosing a minimally invasive approach known as the Exeter hip. Mrs Hills recovered from surgery very well and was quickly pain-free and walking independently. After staying in hospital for only two nights, she was walking within six weeks and able to climb the Alps in October.

The Exeter hip stem is considered the industry gold standard for prosthetic hip replacement. The Exeter stem system is a collarless, tapered, polished and cemented stem designed by a collaboration of orthopaedic surgeons. Since its creation, the implant has had extraordinary long-term success, largely owing to the ability of its tapered design to act like a self-locking taper or wedge. It can subside at the interface between the stem and cement because of its collarless, polished design. 2010 was the 40th anniversary of the first Exeter hip stem surgery.

Invention of the Exeter hip was contrary to existing designs for cemented stem fixation at the time of development. Previous techniques sought to bond the stem to the bone cement as solidly as possible, but the Exeter relies on an entirely different principle. It is polished and deliberately non-bonded which gives the stem freedom to continually tighten throughout the life of the hip. The Exeter hip system is one of numerous impressive and innovative techniques now routinely available in orthopaedic surgery.