Fife pioneers day surgery for hip replacements

NHS Fife has become the first health board in Scotland to pilot successful day-surgery hip replacement.

The pioneering move has cut the average length of stay in hospital from four days down to less than 12 hours.

First patient, Michael Sullivan, from Kennoway, is pictured with the surgery team

First patient, Michael Sullivan, from Kennoway, is pictured with the surgery team

It has tapped into work first developed in Denmark, and put the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy on the map for its ground breaking work.

The surgery involves a move away from the traditional use of spinal anaesthetic in favour of a more localised numbing.

Numbing the capsule, tendon and ligaments around the hip joint means the muscles are still working and the patient can generally walk soon afterwards.

The surgery also marks a move away from opiate based medication.

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Edward Dunstan, director of surgery carries out around four joint replacements each day.

He said: “One thing we have got to be clear about is that throughout this project we have never compromised on patient safety or quality of care.

“It is all about empowering patients and empowering members of staff. Using spinal anaesthetic means the legs are totally numbed and are unable to be used for up to six hours. The new technique gets the legs back to work sooner, reducing the risk of losing muscle mass, clots, and increasing oxygen saturation in the blood, which generally helps patients feel much better. “

The first patient was Michael Sullivan from Kennoway.

He arrived at the Vic at 7.30 am, was operated on two hours later,and was back home by 6.30pm

It was his second hip replacement at the Vic.

He said: “The first surgery I had, I was a bit apprehensive because you did not know what you were about to go through, but the second time was completely different. It was night and day.

“The first surgery I felt sick afterward and I lay in bed for about four hours for the anaesthetic to wear off, and by then it was too late to start doing any exercises.

“The second operation I was up within an hour and walking about – there was no pain,

“I never felt nauseated and I was able to walk a lot freer. The team were excellent right from the start, the explanation, advice, and it was the quickness. The last time I was listening to Beatles music during the surgery after hearing horror stories – but this time it was the best two hours sleep I have had in years!”

Across Scotland there are around 15,000 major joint replacements carried out every year.

Day case hip surgery is suitable for around 15 per cent of patients, but can significantly reduce their stay in hospital.