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Murray is acting gov. as Patrick recovers; Hip replacement surgery goes well.

Byline: John J. Monahan

BOSTON - Gov. Deval L. Patrick came through his hip replacement surgery yesterday at Massachusetts General Hospital in good condition, and is expected to spend a few weeks recuperating at his Richmond home after being released from the hospital later this week.

Dr. Harry Rubash, Mass. General's chief of orthopedic surgery, performed Mr. Patrick's procedure. He said the governor was alert and resting comfortably after a 2-1/2 hour operation without any complications.

"Gov. Patrick is expected to remain in the hospital for four to five days, followed by a few weeks of outpatient rehabilitation," Dr. Rubash said.

Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray was serving as acting governor yesterday and he expected to continue in that role until turning the office back over to Mr. Patrick, probably tomorrow.

Mr. Patrick, who had never had surgery before, said Monday the idea remained "a bit of a mystery" to him, but he said he was looking forward to a speedy recovery.

He said he expected to spend a couple of days in the hospital, "learning how to put my shoe on and get out of bed and walk up stairs" before heading home later this week.

He becomes one of an estimated 1 million people who have had hip replacement surgery using techniques and materials developed at Massachusetts General Hospital since the late 1990s. In recent years, the hospital also developed the now widely used hip replacement materials known as highly cross-linked polyethylene, to allow hip replacements to last far longer than they did in the past. Further advancements also include the diffusion of vitamin E in the materials, making them stronger and less resistant to oxidation.

Those advancements, used in hip replacements since 2004, add many years to the expected life of materials that a few years ago were expected to begin wearing out in 10 to 15 years.

State Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester, who had similar surgery two years ago, said she recovered well enough to return to work within a month of her surgery, also performed at Mass. General.

"He should be walking the first day" after the surgery, she said. "He should be fine and he should be up and around in the next few weeks."

"The amazing thing about the surgery is when you wake up, suddenly you realize the pain you have been living with for months or years is gone. There is pain from the incision, but that other constant nagging pain is gone," Ms. Chandler said.

Mr. Patrick, 53, said he had known for several years he eventually would need the surgery. The governor injured his hip in a truck accident in 1978 while he was working on a United Nations youth training project in the Darfur region of Sudan. He also has arthritis in the hip, which was aggravating the condition.

He joins a number of prominent elected officials who have had hip replacement, including former House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran and, more recently, U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass.

Ms. Chandler said that in the past, when hip replacements were expected to last only 10 to 15 years, doctors urged patients to wait as long as possible to have the surgery to reduce the need for further replacements. But she said now that they last longer that is less of a concern.

She said it changed her lifestyle. In the year leading up to her surgery, she said, she had to walk slowly and fell on a couple of occasions, which worried her. Now she said she is not limited in her activities.

"I can do everything now. I can walk on a treadmill and use the stair climber," she said.


CUTLINE: After hip replacement surgery, Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to remain in the hospital for four or five days, followed by several weeks of outpatient rehabilitation.

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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 2, 2009
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