SEPT. 12, 2007 | Willa Shearer of Fayetteville became the first patient in Arkansas to benefit from a combination of new hip surgery techniques at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) that allowed her to stay awake and walk within hours of two total hip replacements.
The Sept. 6 and 7 surgeries marked another first for UAMS orthopaedic surgeon Richard Evans, M.D., who is providing the latest knee and hip procedures available in the United States.
Unlike other hip replacements, which have a lifespan of about 20 years, Shearer’s should last the rest of her life, said Evans, who is chief of Adult Reconstruction and director of the Center for Hip and Knee Surgery at UAMS.
Three days after surgery, Shearer was walking with the aid of a walker and should be at full strength within a few weeks,
“I’m ready to hit the golf course, do some traveling and play with my guns,” said Shearer, an avid golfer and member of the Single Action Shooting Society, an international organization that preserves and promotes the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting.
“Mrs. Shearer is the first patient to benefit from a melding of techniques that have given her two new hips using a minimally invasive procedure and metal-on-metal parts that will serve her the rest of her life,” Evans said.
Advances in the application of these new technologies were made possible by the Food and Drug Administration’s approval last week of the metal articulating parts that Evans said will serve Shearer, an active, healthy 70-year-old, the rest of her life.
“This is fast-evolving, cutting-edge technology, and UAMS was the first in Arkansas to provide this combination of metal-on-metal bearings and advanced stem replacement,” Evans said.
Like many people as they age, Shearer’s hips had become arthritic over the last few years. Her daughter, Debbie Walker, executive director of the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, encouraged her to go to UAMS, she said. The Walkers have been major supporters of UAMS for many years.
Shearer’s first hip surgery was on Sept. 6 and the second hip was replaced the following day. Because the surgery involved using special, minimally invasive instruments, no muscle was cut, meaning Shearer had little pain and a fast recovery. She was walking within a few hours of each surgery, which took less than two hours.
“I am very, very pleased, I really am,” she said.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,435 students and 715 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,400 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. For more information, visit www.uams.edu.