What is Radlink Assisted Hip Replacement?
Radlink is a state-of-the-art portable digital radiography processing system employed for the accurate placement of a hip implant during total hip arthroplasty.
Precise positioning of the implants is crucial to accomplish a good clinical outcome and a successful total hip replacement. The Radlink GPS (Galileo Positioning System) is comprised of an in-built picture archiving and communication system (PACS) that offers your surgeon the ability to stream preoperative X-rays into the operating room and compare them to intraoperative X-rays obtained by a C-arm (a medical imaging device that is based on x-ray technology) during surgery.
The Radlink system can be utilized to perform both posterior and anterior approach total hip replacement.
Anatomy of the Hip
The hip joint is one of the body's largest weight-bearing joints and is the point where the thighbone (femur) and pelvis (acetabulum) join. It is a ball-and-socket joint in which the head of the femur forms the ball and the pelvic acetabulum forms the socket. The joint surface is covered by smooth articular cartilage that cushions and enables smooth movement of the joint. The bones are held together by bands of tissue called ligaments that provide stability to the joint.
How Does Radlink Assisted Hip Replacement Work?
The Radlink GPS consists of a standard digital flat panel detector that takes X-ray pictures from an X-ray device and presents them on a 24-inch touch screen monitor within a few seconds. A second 24-inch touch screen monitor presents the patient's preoperative pictures for the reference of the surgeon. The Radlink GPS computer software works with X-ray and provides your surgeon with instant feedback on component positioning and precise angle and length measurements, and the ability to assess leg length discrepancy and femoral offset intraoperatively. The real-time information rendered by the GPS helps your surgeon to make decisions at the time of surgery to determine precise implant placement.
Benefits of Radlink Assisted Hip Replacement
Some of the benefits of Radlink assisted hip replacement include:
- Better accuracy in sizing and positioning of your hip implant
- Improved functional outcome and stability
- Improved durability of the implant
- Reduced risk of leg-length discrepancies
- Reduced operative time
- Reduced risk of implant wear and dislocation
Indications for Radlink Assisted Hip Replacement
Indications for a Radlink assisted hip replacement include:
- Failed total hip replacement
- Malpositioning of the acetabular component
- Dislocation of the joint
- Impingement of the prosthesis
- Aseptic loosening of the prosthesis
- Periprosthetic osteolysis
- Polyethylene liner wear of the implant
- Prosthetic joint infection
Preparation for Radlink Assisted Hip Replacement
Preoperative preparation for Radlink assisted hip replacement will involve the following steps:
- A thorough examination by your doctor is performed to check for any medical issues that need to be addressed prior to surgery.
- Depending on your medical history, social history, and age, you may need to undergo tests such as blood work and imaging to help detect any abnormalities that could threaten the safety of the procedure.
- You will be asked if you have allergies to medications, anesthesia, or latex.
- You should inform your doctor of any medications, vitamins, or supplements that you are taking.
- You should refrain from medications or supplements such as blood thinners, aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medicines for 1 to 2 weeks prior to surgery.
- You should refrain from alcohol or tobacco at least a week before and two weeks after surgery.
- You should not consume any solids or liquids at least 8 hours prior to surgery.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home as you will not be able to drive yourself after surgery.
- A written consent will be obtained from you after the surgical procedure has been explained in detail.
Procedure for Radlink Assisted Hip Replacement
The procedure is done under general or regional anesthesia with you appropriately placed on the operating table. Radlink computer software provides real-time imaging of the mapped affected joint and surgical instruments during surgery. Data for the images are provided by infrared sensors fixed to the bones of the joint and the surgical instruments. Their position is tracked by an infrared camera situated above the surgical table linked to the Radlink GPS system. The system then generates the real-time images with the help of the Radlink software to guide the surgeon to precisely resurface and cut the bones of the joint and fix the implant precisely and accurately according to the pre-operative surgical plan. Once the surgery is completed, the incision is closed with sutures and covered with a sterile dressing.
Postoperative Care and Instructions
In general, postoperative care instructions and recovery after Radlink assisted hip replacement will involve the following:
- You will be transferred to the recovery area where your nurse will closely observe you for any allergic/anesthetic reactions and monitor your vital signs as you recover.
- Most patients may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two before discharge to home.
- You may notice some pain, swelling, and discomfort in the operated area. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications are provided as needed.
- You will be placed on assistive devices such as crutches with instructions on restricted weight-bearing for a specified period of time. You are encouraged to walk with assistance as frequently as possible to prevent blood clots.
- Keep the surgical site clean and dry. Instructions on surgical site care and bathing will be provided.
- Refrain from smoking as it can negatively affect the healing process.
- Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamin D is strongly advised to promote healing and a faster recovery.
- Refrain from strenuous activities for the first few months and lifting heavy weights for at least 6 months. Gradual increase in activities over a period of time is recommended.
- An individualized physical therapy protocol will be designed to help strengthen hip muscles and optimize hip function.
- Most patients are able to resume their normal activities in 3 to 4 weeks after surgery; however, return to sports may take at least 6 months or longer.
- Refrain from driving until you are fully fit and receive your doctor’s consent.
- A periodic follow-up appointment will be scheduled to monitor your progress.
Risks and Complications
Radlink assisted hip replacement is a relatively safe procedure; however, as with any surgery, some risks and complications may occur, such as the following:
- Postoperative pain
- Damage to nerves and vessels
- Thromboembolism or blood clots
- Dislocations (rarely)