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Joint Replacement Surgery Is All in the Family

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Jennie Lewandoski is 103 years old. She gave birth to nine children. She has 17 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, six great-great-grandchildren — and two artificial hips. 

When she was “only” 91, Ms. Lewandoski underwent her first total hip replacement surgery in 1997, by Bruce Seideman, MD, chief of joint replacement at North Shore University Hospital and LIJ Medical Center. He performed her second procedure two years later. 

Like many adults over 65, Ms. Lewandoski suffered from osteoarthritis. Arthritis simply means “joint inflammation,” and osteoarthritis, the most common form, results from deterioration of the cartilage that cushions the ends of joint-forming bones. It often develops with aging.

Prosthetic Joints Enhance Mobility, Independence

The first line of treatment for osteoarthritis is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), available over the counter as Advil, Motrin, Aleve or generics. Higher doses are available by prescription, as are other, stronger NSAIDs. Additional options include cortisone injections for temporary relief from swelling and pain or injection of gel-like substances called hyaluronates (into the knee joint only) to help provide lubrication. If these methods fail, the patient can then consider surgery. 

When asked whether he was performing more joint replacement surgeries, hips or knees, on elderly patients, Dr. Seideman replied, “I’m performing more procedures on patients in every age group. People are living longer, they lead more active lives and they want to maintain their activity level. Prosthetic joints are becoming more and more durable and long-lasting; that means someone in his 50’s doesn’t have to put off joint replacement surgery because he is concerned that he will need another joint replacement years later. With improvements in anesthesia and postoperative care, people with significant underlying medical conditions may be candidates for joint replacement surgery.” There are benefits to the individual, and to society as a whole, said Dr. Seideman. “Joint replacement allows people to work longer, to remain in their homes longer, to put off requiring home health aides. This reduces the financial burden on our healthcare system.” 

Dr. Seideman has performed joint replacement surgery on about 15 nonagenarians. “One gentleman, who began working on Wall Street around the time of the stock market crash of 1929, was still working there when he consulted with me about knee replacement. He was 94. A new knee made it possible for him to continue to travel to New York.” 

Ten years after her second hip replacement surgery, Ms. Lewandoski is still in her home and still mobile. Two daughters who live nearby pop in regularly. They note that aside from the periods of recovery from her surgeries, Ms. Lewandoski has never been wheelchair-bound. Her block in Queens is a short one, but she can still walk to the corner and back, a daughter at her side. 

One daughter, Patricia Marino, who lives in Florida and visits often, began to have knee trouble in her 60’s. Two attempts to repair cartilage in her left knee produced minimal or no improvement. Just this spring, she flew to New York and could hardly walk when she deplaned. Fortunately, her mother had a surgeon to recommend. Dr. Seideman examined Ms. Marino, and she quickly scheduled her knee replacement surgery. 

“I’m so glad that I was here and not in Florida when my knee gave out,” Ms. Marino said. “I’m delighted with the new knee that Dr. Seideman gave me. I’ve always been a person on the go, but I had to restrict my activities. Now I’m up and running again.”

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For expert care from one of our orthopedic specialists, call the North Shore-LIJ Institute for Orthopedic Science at (866) 914-9393 or visit www.OrthopedicScience.com.

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